Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen on Friday criticized the Chinese government’s crackdown on companies with foreign ties and its recent decision to impose export restrictions on some key minerals, justifying the Biden administration’s efforts to make U.S. manufacturers less dependent on China.
In her first day of meetings in Beijing to ease tensions between the United States and China, Ms. Yellen presented. His remarks to a group of executives from American businesses operating in China underscored the challenges the world’s two largest economies face as they seek to move beyond their deep differences.
“During meetings with my colleagues, I am relaying the concerns I have heard from the American business community — including China’s use of non-market instruments such as expanded subsidies and barriers to market access for its state-owned enterprises and domestic enterprises. Foreign firms,” he said at an event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in China. Ms. Yellen told business leaders.“I am deeply troubled by the punitive actions taken against American companies in recent months.” Representatives from Boeing, Bank of America and agricultural giant Cargill attended.
In March, Chinese authorities detained and closed a branch of five Chinese nationals working in Beijing for Mintz Group, an American consulting firm with 18 offices around the world. The following month, authorities questioned employees at the Shanghai office of American management consulting firm Bain & Company.
The scrutiny of U.S. businesses operating in China follows restrictions imposed by the Biden administration on China’s access to critical semiconductor manufacturing technology and equipment.
The Biden administration is preparing additional restrictions on U.S. technology trade with China, including potential limits on advanced chips and U.S. investment in the country. The administration is also preparing to limit Chinese companies’ access to U.S. cloud computing services in an effort to close a loophole in earlier restrictions on China’s access to advanced chips used in artificial intelligence.
The tit-for-tat continued this week when Beijing retaliated against the Biden administration’s limits on semiconductors, announcing that it would restrict exports of some key minerals used in the production of some chips.
An official from China’s Ministry of Finance said on Friday that Ms. He expressed hope that the meetings with Yellen would improve economic relations and suggested that the United States should take steps to make that happen. The official added that both countries do not benefit from the “disconnection” and disruption of supply chains.
Ms Yellen said on Friday she was “concerned” by China’s decision to impose export restrictions.
“We are still evaluating the impact of these measures, but they remind us of the importance of building resilient and diversified supply chains,” Ms. Yellen said. He suggested that additional responses from the United States could be forthcoming to ensure that American businesses and workers are treated fairly.
“I will always champion your interests and work to ensure a level playing field,” Ms. Yellen added. “This includes coordinating with our allies to respond to China’s unfair economic practices.”
Businesses are also spooked by China’s ever-tightening national security laws, which include a tough counter-espionage law that came into force on Saturday. The US State Department issued a warning this week advising Americans to reconsider traveling to China because of the possibility of false detention.
Chamber President Michael Hart said American companies are trying to play a constructive role in the economic relationship between the United States and China.
“No matter what happens at the political level, we are trying to find common ground with our Chinese counterparts by working, producing, producing, buying, selling, paying taxes and doing everything in a way that reflects our values,” said Mr. Hart, who sat next to Ms. Yellen. And we believe it will benefit the US and China as well.”
The Treasury secretary plans to raise these issues during meetings with top Chinese officials over the next two days.
In addition to the business leaders, Ms. Yellen also met on Friday with Liu He, China’s former vice premier, and Yi Gang, the outgoing governor of the People’s Bank of China. A Treasury Department official said Ms. Yellen discussed the outlook for the economy in an informal discussion that lasted more than an hour with her former colleagues.
Later on Friday afternoon, he will meet with Premier Li Qiang at the Great Hall of the People.
Claire Fu Contributed report.