By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Officials from the United States and China on Monday held a two-hour long virtual meeting to discuss domestic and global macroeconomic developments, the U.S. Treasury Department said, calling the meeting “productive and substantive”.
Ties between the world’s two largest economies have been strained in recent years due to a number of issues including Taiwan, the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, allegations of spying, human rights issues and trade tariffs.
Senior officials from both sides have been meeting each other in recent months to lay the ground for an expected meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November.
“Today, the United States and the People’s Republic of China held the first meeting of the Economic Working Group (EWG), which serves as an ongoing channel to discuss and facilitate progress on bilateral economic policy matters,” the Treasury Department said.
China’s finance ministry said the two sides had “in-depth, frank and constructive” talks, and also discussed bilateral cooperation in “addressing global challenges”.
Both sides will continue to maintain communication, the ministry said.
U.S. and Chinese officials also raised “areas of concern,” statements from the two sides said, without elaborating. The meeting was led by senior officials from the U.S. Treasury Department and China’s finance ministry.
The EWG was launched last month following U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s trip to Beijing in July. It was launched in parallel with a financial working group, which will hold its first meeting on Wednesday.
The economic meeting follows other high-level engagements between the two countries in recent months that have seen visits from U.S. officials to China like Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June, Yellen in July and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in August.
More recently, Blinken met Chinese Vice President Han Zheng in New York and U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malta. China’s top diplomat will travel to the United States later this week to meet Blinken.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington, Liz Lee and Ethan Wang in Beijing; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Miral Fahmy)