US-China Stability Is ‘Profoundly Important,’ Raimondo Says

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stressed the importance of stable economic ties between the world’s biggest economies on a visit to Beijing as she tries to expand business ties during her visit to China this week.

(Bloomberg) — US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stressed the importance of stable economic ties between the world’s biggest economies on a visit to Beijing as she tries to expand business ties during her visit to China this week.

Addressing Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao on Monday, Raimondo said the US sought “healthy competition” and had no intention to hinder China’s economic progress.

“It is profoundly important that we have a stable economic relationship, which is to the benefit of both of our countries and in fact what the world expects of us,” Raimondo said. “It’s a complicated relationship, it’s a challenging relationship. We will of course disagree on certain issues, but I believe that we can make progress if we are direct, open and practical.”

Raimondo arrived in Beijing on Sunday, becoming the fourth high-profile US official to visit the world’s second-largest economy in the past three months. Her visit is seen as one that may have a better chance of improving ties because the Commerce Department’s mandate is to promote US trade abroad as well as to combat practices the US considers unfair or dangerous to national security. 

Despite the multiple visits from major US officials to China this year, no high-level Chinese officials have visited the US. “That gives Secretary Raimondo a lot of pressure in terms of what she can achieve during her trip,” said Zongyuan Zoe Liu, fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

While the US wouldn’t bend on national security, Raimondo said Monday that much of the trade between the two countries shouldn’t be affected and there were many areas for cooperation. 

“Of course in matters of national security, there is no room to compromise or negotiate,” she said. 

At the same meeting, Wang said China was ready to work with the US to boost trade and “foster a more favorable policy environment” for US and Chinese businesses.

Raimondo also said the US and China have “worked over the summer to establish new information exchanges and working groups that will enable us to have more consistent engagement in our relationship.” Bloomberg News earlier reported she was expected to announce working groups on export controls and commercial issues. 

“The incentives and priorities on both sides are different,” Liu said. “China probably is very much interested in further relaxing of export controls and letting tariffs expire, but none of those things can be decided by Secretary Raimondo.”

For all the strife in relations, China remains among the US’s biggest trade partners. Trade in goods between the US and China climbed to a record $690.6 billion in 2022. US imports from China have dropped this year, though, as it purchases more from Mexico and Canada.

Raimondo also cited climate change as an area in which the US and China can cooperate. US climate envoy John Kerry visited Beijing in July for several days of hours-long negotiations with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua. While the talks yielded little in terms of action, both sides promised to keep communicating — a positive sign after Beijing halted talks last year in the wake of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan.

While tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have grown in recent years, climate has been one of the rare areas where they’ve been able to work together on a global stage. The 2015 Paris Agreement — the backbone of global climate efforts — was made possible by an accord the previous year between Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping. At the 2021 United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Kerry and Xie brokered a deal that included cutting emissions of methane.

Raimondo’s visit may also help Boeing Co. resume shipping its 737 Max jets to China for the first time since 2019. The jetliner is the planemaker’s main source of cash as it rebuilds finances devastated by Covid and a global grounding of its Max plane. Rival Airbus SE has built a commanding lead in China, and around the globe, while Boeing’s workhorse jet has been shut out of its largest overseas market.

–With assistance from Lucille Liu, Dan Murtaugh and Nasreen Seria.

(Updates with additional details.)

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