BEIJING (AP) – US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and her Chinese counterpart expressed support Monday for improving trade conditions, as Raimondo began a trip to Beijing as part of US efforts to mend chilly ties.
Raimondo follows other US officials in July, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who have visited China in the past three months. They expressed optimism about improving communications but declared no progress on disputes over technology, security, human rights and other issues that have pushed ties to their lowest level in decades.
For its part, Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s government is seeking to revive foreign investor interest in China as it seeks to reverse a deepening economic downturn.
Commerce Minister Wang Wentao told Raimondo that Beijing stands ready to work together to “promote a more favorable policy environment for stronger cooperation” and “promote bilateral trade and investment” between US and Chinese businesses. Wang did not provide any details of the potential initiative.
Raimondo said the two sides are working on establishing “new information exchanges” for “more coherent engagement”.
“It is extremely important that we have a stable economic relationship,” he said. “I believe we can make progress if we are direct, open and practical.”
Beijing broke off talks with Washington on military, climate and other issues in August 2022 in retaliation for a visit to Taiwan by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the House of Representatives. The mainland’s ruling Communist Party claims the self-governing island democracy as part of its territory and objects to foreign governments’ contact with it.
The government press has given positive coverage to the US Beijing visit, but China has given no indication that it might change trade, strategic, market access and other policies that vex Washington and its Asian neighbors.
A key Chinese complaint is limiting access to processor chips and other US technology on security grounds, which threatens to hinder China’s development of smartphones, artificial intelligence and other industries.
Wang visited Washington in May. The US government has also invited Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Washington, but its plans have not been announced.
Raimondo was also scheduled to meet China’s No. 2 leader, Premier Li Keqiang, and other officials during his two-day visit to Beijing and Shanghai.
Joe McDonald, The Associated Press