US isn’t trying to hold China’s economy back, says Commerce Secretary Raimondo

Laura He, CNN

The United States is not seeking to decouple from China’s economy or hold it back, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told senior Chinese economic officials Tuesday in Beijing.

“The US-China commercial relationship is one of the most globally consequential, and managing that relationship responsibly is critical to both our nations and indeed to the whole world,” Raimondo told a group of officials, including Vice Premier He Lifeng, during her second day of meetings in the country.

“And while we will, never of course compromise in protecting our national security, I want to be clear that we do not seek to decouple or to hold China’s economy back,” she said.

Hours later, when she met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Raimondo emphasized that point.

“President Biden asked me to come here to convey the message that we do not seek to decouple,” she told Li. “We seek to maintain our $700 billion dollar commercial relationship with China.”

The Chinese premier said he hoped the two countries can strengthen communication and maintain the health of US-China economic relations.

“Only through dialogue can we understand each other’s concerns, find common ground and increase the possibility of cooperation,” he said.

“Economic and trade relations are the ballast for sino-US relations,” he added. “A well-maintained economic and trade relationship is beneficial to both [our] countries and the whole world.”

“We hope that commercial relationship can provide stability for the overall relationship,” Raimondo said in reply to Li.

She also said the United States hoped to work with China on other areas of concern, such as climate change, artificial intelligence as well as America’s fentanyl crisis.

‘Rational’ practices

Vice Premier He, the head of China’s powerful economic planning agency, noted earlier that Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden met in Bali last November where they had reached an important consensus for the development of bilateral relations.

He said that he hoped the United States will work with China to “adopt rational and practical practices” and put the leaders’ recommendations into practice. He added that he was ready to work with Raimondo.

Earlier Tuesday, Raimondo had met with Culture and Tourism Minister Hu Heping. The two agreed to advance “people to people ties” through increased tourism as well as educational and student exchanges, according to Raimondo.

The commerce secretary’s visit to China, the fourth by a Biden official in three months, comes as the two sides seek to stabilize rocky relations. Her visit also coincides with a worsening slowdown in the world’s second largest economy.

China’s growth forecasts have been downgraded by economists as exports and foreign investment slump, a real estate crisis deepens and worries spread about its general financial health.

From Beijing’s perspective, Raimondo’s department has played a key role in a number of areas, including restricting semiconductor exports, that have been the source of mounting friction.

On Monday, Raimondo said it was “profoundly important” that the US and China have a stable economic relationship. She added that the majority of US-China trade did not impact national security concerns, and it was possible to promote and protect US trade and security at the same time.

After her Monday meetings, the United States announced that the two sides would establish new channels of communication for economic issues, including a working group composed of officials and businesses from both countries and a mechanism to exchange information on US export control enforcement.