US and China continue trade talks despite lingering tensions

by The Insights

Joe Biden’s top trade official and China’s commerce minister held talks over economic and trade disputes, in the latest signs of half-hearted efforts to stabilize ties between the two superpowers.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao on Friday on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Detroit. She raised concerns about Beijing’s actions against US companies as well as its “non-market” approach to the economy and trade policy, according to a statement from her office.

According to a statement from China’s Commerce Ministry, Wang referred to Chinese concerns over Taiwan, Trump-era tariffs on US companies buying from China, and Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework – a trade deal that excludes China and focuses on infrastructure, supply chain resilience and cleanliness. energy.

The meeting came five days after the US president predicted an imminent “thaw” in relations at the end of the G7 summit. It also came a day after Wang held talks with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, in the first visit by a senior Chinese official to the U.S. capital since 2020.

Following Friday’s meeting, both parties stressed the need to keep communication channels open.

Earlier in May, Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, met with US national security adviser Jake Sullivan during talks in Vienna, in a bid to stabilize relations between the countries.

Analysts are increasing calls for Washington and Beijing to take advantage of a rare window of opportunity for high-level bilateral talks.

That includes the possibility of a new round of climate change talks between John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua, the climate envoys of the world’s two largest economies, who have previously pledged joint action on climate change despite strained ties. It is also hoped that Xi and Biden could meet at the Apec leaders’ summit in the United States in November.

Yet, with US-China relations at their lowest level in decades, efforts to stabilize diplomatic activities are struggling to get off the ground, with the two sides clashing over new restrictions on access to technology as well as of Xi’s support for Vladimir Putin face to face. of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

China last week ordered some of its infrastructure companies to stop buying from US chipmaker Micron, just hours after the G7 released its harshest criticism of Beijing. On Wednesday, Xi met Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin in Beijing and called for deepening trade, economic and energy ties with Russia, thwarting Western pressure to reduce support for Putin.

Also on Friday, the Justice Department unveiled charges against two Los Angeles residents for bribery and participation in a state-run scheme targeting US-based practitioners of Falun Gong, the religious movement banned in China.

“The Department of Justice continues to speak out against the Chinese government’s brazen attempts to perpetrate transnational repression, this time through attempted bribery,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement.

Additional reporting by James Politi in Washington and Maiqi Ding in Beijing

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