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Negotiations Between U.S. and China Intensify in Effort to Reduce Tensions

The United States and China have agreed to hold regular conversations regarding commercial issues and access to advanced technology in an attempt to reduce tensions between the two nations. This agreement was reached during a visit to Beijing by Gina Raimondo, the U.S. commerce secretary, who is currently meeting with senior Chinese officials in Beijing and Shanghai.

This announcement marks a significant step towards rebuilding the frayed relationship between the two countries. In the past 10 weeks, senior American officials, including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, and climate envoy John Kerry, have made three trips to China, further laying the groundwork for improved relations.

Ms. Raimondo stated that the agreement to hold regular discussions is a positive sign, emphasizing the importance of concrete dialogue. She described this development as an official channel for communication.

During her visit to Beijing, Ms. Raimondo had a discussion with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao about recent actions taken by China against two American semiconductor companies, Intel and Micron Technology. The Chinese government had scuttled a planned acquisition by Intel and blocked some sales by Micron in China this year. These issues were raised by Ms. Raimondo during her meeting with Mr. Wang.

Two separate dialogue channels will be established; one consisting of business representatives that focus on commercial issues, and another for governmental information exchange on export control issues.

Trade and economic talks between the United States and China had significantly diminished in recent years. China had halted eight bilateral discussion groups last year in retaliation for a visit to Taiwan by Representative Nancy Pelosi, who was the House speaker at the time.

The incident involving a Chinese spy balloon that traveled across the United States and was subsequently shot down over the Atlantic Ocean worsened the rift between both countries, leading to the cancellation of Secretary Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing.

However, both nations have now opened the door to renewing diplomatic ties as their economies remain interconnected.

Prior to her visit, Ms. Raimondo faced criticism from Republican lawmakers for her plan to establish a “working group” of U.S. and Chinese officials to discuss American export controls. The lawmakers argued that it was inappropriate for China to have influence over national security technologies. In response, Ms. Raimondo referred to the dialogue as an “information exchange” and emphasized that national security would not be compromised.

Ms. Raimondo also stated that she and the Chinese commerce minister have agreed to meet with each other at least once a year. He Weiwen, a former Chinese commerce ministry official, expressed that the agreement to have more discussions reflects both sides’ commitment to pragmatism.

Nevertheless, plans for a formal dialogue structure between the two countries have drawn criticism from China hawks in the United States, who argue that China does not deserve such outreach due to various issues, including its failure to address the flow of fentanyl into the United States, its alliance with Russia, and the hacking of Ms. Raimondo’s email account prior to her trip.

The Chinese officials raised concerns during the meetings about declining trade and investment between the two countries, as well as issues related to government subsidies. U.S. officials conveyed the concerns of American businesses and investors, including the unfair requirements faced by foreign businesses and the lack of transparency in China’s economic statistics. China recently suspended the release of youth unemployment data.

In preparation for her trip, Ms. Raimondo consulted with nearly 150 business leaders who expressed the need for more channels of communication between the two nations.

Ms. Raimondo emphasized the importance of a Chinese economy that plays by the rules, stating that it is in the best interest of all parties involved. As the Chinese economy has experienced challenges this summer, Chinese officials have shown a willingness to hold discussions. The foreign ministry also recently announced that travelers to China would no longer need to test themselves for COVID-19 starting Wednesday.

Michael Hart, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, noted a change in direction from Chinese officials, who now recognize the importance of U.S.-China trade and have shifted their tone from blaming America for various issues.

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