US Secretary of Commerce meets with Chinese Premier in Beijing
By David Shepherdson
BEIJING (Reuters) – US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Beijing on Tuesday for the second full day of talks with top Chinese leaders about balancing trade relations with national security concerns.
Raimundo is the latest Biden administration official to visit China in an effort to boost contacts, especially in the economic and defense sphere, as friction between the world’s two largest economies threatens to destabilize trade relations.
Earlier on Tuesday, Raimondo Caesar told China’s economic and direct counterpart, He Living, that the United States does not seek to separate from its geopolitical rival.
“Although we will never compromise on protecting our national security, I want to make it clear that we will never seek to decouple or impede the progress of the Chinese economy,” she said at the meeting in the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital.
A close confidant of President Xi Jinping, he took over as China’s economic czar in March, having earlier directed the country’s powerful scheme.
He replaced former Vice Premier Liu He, a Harvard-trained economist who spoke fluent English and was very popular with US officials.
Before her meeting with He, Raimondo and Minister of Tourism Hu Hebin agreed to hold the 14th China-US Tourism Leadership Summit in China in the first half of 2024.
The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that the move aims to revive and develop tourism cooperation between the two countries.
The last such summit was held in 2019 in Seattle. Prior to that, it met annually, rotating between countries.
Raimundo has made promoting travel and tourism a huge part of her journey.
China and the United States agreed this month to double the number of flights allowed between them, which remains only a fraction of the number before the pandemic.
If China returns to US tourism levels for 2019, Raimondo said, it would add $30 billion to the US economy and 50,000 US jobs.
Raimondo plans to visit Shanghai Disneyland on Wednesday, a joint venture between Walt Disney and the Chinese state-owned Shendi Group.
On Monday, Raimondo touted Washington and Beijing’s decision to agree to a new formal working group on trade issues.
US companies have reported increasing challenges operating in China, which has been highly critical of US efforts to block their access to advanced semiconductors.
On Monday, the administration agreed to launch an effort to share information on the enforcement of export controls.
The ministry said the first meeting of the initiative was held on Tuesday at the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing, chaired by Matthew Axelrod, US Assistant Secretary of State for Export Enforcement.
Raimondo said Monday that such an exchange provides a platform to reduce misunderstandings of US national security policies, but added: “We don’t bargain or negotiate on matters of national security. This is a period.”
Xie Feng, China’s envoy to the United States, welcomed the announcement.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Xie said Raimondo and Commerce Minister Wang Wentao had “reasonable, frank and constructive communication” on China-US economic and trade relations and issues of common concern.
Raimondo said on Monday that it raised concerns about the restrictions on chipmakers Intel and Micron during more than four hours of talks with Wang on a range of US business issues.
She added that the trip will bring wide-ranging benefits to US companies operating in China.
“We’re executing. We’ll have that formal call,” she said.
(Reporting by David Shepherdson; Additional reporting by Joe Cash; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)