In the midst of high-stakes negotiations between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the commerce chiefs of the United States and China are set to convene at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum this week.
A spokesperson from the U.S. Commerce Department confirmed that U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao have planned a meeting, although specific details and timing were not disclosed. Raimondo's participation extends to ministerial meetings within the APEC framework and the Biden administration's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework discussions.
The anticipated summit between Presidents Biden and Xi, scheduled for Wednesday in the San Francisco Bay area, aims to ease tensions in the complex relationship between the world's two largest economies.
Raimondo had previously mentioned her forthcoming meeting with Wang, marking their third in-person encounter in less than six months, during an interview with CNN aired on Sunday. She emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions within the U.S.-China relationship, acknowledging the competitive nature of their interactions. Raimondo stressed the importance of straightforward and responsible management of this relationship.
This meeting with Wang follows the discussions held last week between U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, during which both sides agreed to "intensify communication." Yellen is also planning a return trip to China next year as part of these efforts.
Raimondo's role carries a more challenging China portfolio compared to Yellen, as the Commerce Department oversees sensitive areas such as U.S. export controls on advanced semiconductor technologies, chip manufacturing equipment, and other technologies with potential military applications. She underscored the non-negotiable nature of these controls.
During her visit to Beijing in late August, where she met with Wang, Raimondo initiated a dialogue with Chinese officials on export controls to prevent misunderstandings related to these measures. She also reiterated comments made during the trip, expressing concerns from U.S. businesses about China becoming less attractive for American firms. She cited reasons such as China's new anti-espionage law, unpredictable regulations, and government actions against U.S. companies.
As the U.S.-China relationship remains under scrutiny, these high-level engagements seek to address critical issues and find common ground while managing areas of contention.