US commerce secretary to visit Beijing next week


The trip comes as the Biden administration rolls out a framework to ban certain US investments in China.

US commerce secretary to visit Beijing next week

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s visit to Beijing next week has been complicated by developments in the United States and China, including the hacking of Microsoft-run U.S. government email servers in June, including Raimondo’s account.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will visit Beijing early next week, becoming the fourth Biden administration official to make the trip since a thaw in relations began two months ago.

Raimondo will leave Washington on Sunday and return on Wednesday, according to a Commerce Department statement issued Tuesday.

“Secretary Raimondo’s travel follows President Biden’s meeting with President Xi last November,” the statement said. “While in [China], Secretary Raimondo looks forward to constructive discussions on issues relating to the U.S.-China commercial relationship, challenges faced by U.S. businesses, and areas for potential cooperation.”

Raimondo’s trip follows trips to Beijing in June and July by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, and comes amid an open invitation for Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to make a return trip to Washington.

But it has been complicated by a number of developments in both the United States and China, including the hacking of Microsoft-run U.S. government email servers in June, including Raimondo’s account, which led some American lawmakers to call on her to cancel the trip.

Earlier this month, Biden announced a new framework to ban certain U.S. investments in China over national-security concerns, which angered Beijing, which slammed it as protectionist. China has also hit back at U.S. bans on sales of high-end microchips there.

National security

Raimondo, though, says that her mission to promote American business interests in China can be separated from national security issues.

She told a forum at the Wilson Center last month there is no risk to national security in U.S. businesses “selling coffee and beauty aids to China,” and that she could promote such interests without ceding any space on demands from China to loosen security measures. 

“At a high level, we need to do business with China, wherever we can,” Raimondo said on July 25. “We need to promote [U.S. businesses] wherever we can, but we need to protect wherever we can.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that Raimondo’s trip was part of an ongoing U.S. effort to reopen lines of communication after almost a year of bad blood between the world’s two powers, and that he didn’t expect any major announcements.

“We do not view these trips as about deliverables, or particular policy outcomes. We view them as a method of managing a complex relationship, a competitive relationship so that that competition doesn’t tip over into conflict,” Sullivan said on a call with reporters.

He said Raimondo would, for example, be able to “walk through” with Chinese officials the new outbound investment ban that has angered them, and then ask them about their “lack of transparency on economic data, so that we can understand where they are coming from.”

Such diplomacy was not to “change China,” Sullivan added, but to ensure “each side understands what the other is doing, and what they are not doing. That’s really what these visits have all been about.”

Edited by Malcolm Foster

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