US Commerce Secretary Raimondo ‘Talks the Talks’ with China

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was on four-day official visit to China from 27 to 30 August 2023. During her visit, she met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao, Minister of Culture and Tourism Hu Heping and the US business community in China. Her visit follows in the steps of State Secretary Blinken, Treasury Secretary Yellen and Climate Envoy Kerry.

Following the talks, the two sides agreed to the following:

  1. Set up a Joint Economic Working Group
  2. Exchange information related to export control

Raimondo expressed concerns that the business climate in China seems to be no longer conducive. US companies face huge fines, police raids and have to meet stringent requirements regarding ‘data protection.’ US firms have been complaining that China has become ‘uninvestible’ due to the lack of a ‘predictable environment and a level-playing field.’

China-US Bilateral Commerical Meeting

When it comes to sophisticated chips, the ban on export from US to China is maintained as part of the competition between the two giants. China has suspended the delivery of Boeing planes to Chinese airlines since the relationship soured, citing safety concerns on the Boeing 737MAX.

On the other hand, she emphasized that products and services not under ‘national security review’ are welcome to flourish. As an example, the Disneyland in Shanghai is true success story thanks to a JV between American Walt Disney Company and Chinese firm Shendi Group.

Tourism is one sector which is relatively risk-free when it comes to ‘national security’. Thus, both sides have agreed to a phased increase of flights between the two countries: As from 1st September, up to 36 flights per week will be allowed with the number increased to 48 by the end of October.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo Tours the Shanghai Disneyland

She also clarified that the US does not seek to decouple from China, which is quite difficult since China still reign supreme as the ‘Factory of the World.’ Rather, the policy is to derisk by maintaining the leadership in cutting-edge technologies, especially those with dual-use.

Raimondo also expressed concerns that her email was ‘mysteriously’ hacked right before her visit to China. The Chinese side disavowed any knowledge of this action.

“The economic exchanges between the world two largest economies can serve as a ballast to steady the relationship.”

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo

In 2022, the US-China bilateral trade volume amounted to about USD 700 billion which places the US as the second largest trading partner of China, behind the EU. She suggested for China to revert to its former policy of ‘opening up and to evolve towards a market-oriented economy.’

Secretary Raimondo concluded that her visit was ‘useful’ in the sense that it succeeded to establish a channel of communication to avoid misunderstanding and avoid unnecessary escalation of tension.