Secretary Yellen to Make First Visit to China This Week

July 3, 2023

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was set to travel to China on Wednesday, in a bid to ease tensions and steady ties between the world’s two largest economies.

It would be Yellen’s first trip to China as Treasury Secretary and it follows a visit last month by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Yellen’s meetings in China are likely to cover brewing sensitive issues.

Already heightened U.S.-Chinese tensions were made worse in recent months after the Pentagon in February shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon over South Carolinian waters after it had transversed the continental U.S.

Tensions have been further aggravated by China’s saber-rattling against its self-governing neighbor, Taiwan. The U.S. has suspected for some time that China is planning to invade Taiwan, though it has been watching and waiting to see how Russia fairs in its invasion of Ukraine before going forth with an assault against the island nation, just one hundred miles off China’s coast. 

Further adding to the tensions, U.S. intelligence from recently leaked classified Pentagon documents revealed China approved a provision to give lethal aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine but wanted any shipments to remain a secret. That’s despite China having officially taken a neutral stance in Russian-Ukrainian war, and despite China’s Foreign Ministry saying on Friday it would not sell weapons to either side in the conflict. 

China has also blasted the “Chips and Science Act” that was passed by Congress last July, saying restrictions on its technological development are unlawful and a blatant effort to try and weaken the Chinese economy.

Soon after Blinken’s visit last week, President Biden sparked a new quarrel when he referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator.”

In April, Yellen called for  a “constructive” and “healthy” economic relationship between the U.S. and China during remarks at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. She stressed the need for “cooperation on the urgent global challenges of our day” while at the same supporting economic restrictions on China to advance U.S. national security interests.

Yellen will reportedly meet with with top Chinese officials and American companies doing business in China during her visit.

Last week, Yellen noted that “healthy competition” between the U.S. and China could be good for both economies. 

“My hope in traveling to China is to re-establish contact,” Yellen said on MSNBC. “There are a new group of leaders, we need to get to know one another.”

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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