Yellen Arrives in China for Talks as Beijing’s Unfair Trade Practices Come Under Scrutiny

Yellen Arrives in China for Talks as Beijing’s Unfair Trade Practices Come Under Scrutiny
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (3rd R) arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on July 6, 2023. (Pedro Pardo/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arrived in China on Thursday for a four-day visit, a trip that has drawn concerns over the Biden administration’s continued effort to engage Beijing.

According to China’s state-run media, Ms. Yellen was greeted by Chinese officials led by Yang Yingming, director general of China’s Finance Ministry’s international cooperation department, as well as U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, at Beijing Capital International Airport.

NTD Photo
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (R) shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns (L) as Chinese official Yang Yingming looks on after Yellen arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on July 6, 2023. (Mark Schiefelbein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Ms. Yellen’s trip is part of the Biden administration’s continued effort to deepen communication with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), following a rare trip to China by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in June. During that trip, Mr. Blinken met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the two held a “robust conversation,” though no major breakthroughs came out of the meeting.

In her first trip as Treasury secretary to Beijing, Ms. Yellen is expected to meet China’s new Vice Premier He Lifeng, a close ally of Mr. Xi. The Treasury secretary met with Mr. He’s predecessor, Mr. Liu He, in Switzerland in January, during which the two top officials vowed to improve communication and manage the competition to avoid veering into conflict.

It remains to be seen if Ms. Yellen could reach any agreement with Chinese officials, amid China’s continued unfair trade practices and espionage activities of U.S. companies and institutions. Regardless, the Treasury secretary has already made it clear that the United States won’t seek to decouple from China—a policy pushed by some Republicans and experts—saying in a speech in April that doing so would be “disastrous” for both nations.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China, in its annual survey on the business environment in China published in March, said “inconsistent regulatory interpretation and unclear laws and enforcement” are one of the top five business challenges its members face in 2023.

“Nearly one-quarter of members report their top IP challenge is the difficulty in prosecuting IP infringements in court or via administrative measures,” the report says.

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(2nd L) Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen looks on as U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House on June 6, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Ahead of Ms. Yellen’s arrival in China, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, took to Twitter to say that the United States must deal with China from a position of strength.

“Janet Yellen is traveling to Beijing on Thursday to meet with senior Chinese officials to discuss how to ‘responsibly manage our relationship,’” the Tennessee Republican wrote, quoting a statement from the Treasury Department. “In order to take on China, we must pursue a policy of peace through strength, not peace through appeasement.”

Anders Corr, principal at the New York-based political consultancy firm Corr Analytics, criticized the timing of the secretary’s trip.

“Yellen’s trip to China in the midst of >70,000 US fentanyl deaths annually and willful noncooperation on counternarcotics by Beijing sends a fatally weak message to the Chinese Communist Party,” Mr. Corr wrote on Twitter on June 5. “Mistake after mistake from the Biden administration.”

Mexico cartels have been buying precursor chemicals from China to make fentanyl and then ship finished products to the United States. On June 23, the Department of Justice announced charges against four Chinese chemical manufacturers and eight Chinese nationals for alleged crimes related to the production, distribution, and sales of fentanyl.


Grant Newsham, a retired U.S. Marine colonel and now a senior research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, expressed concerns about the Biden administration possibly making concessions to communist China to set up these face-to-face meetings in China.

“If it goes like it’s happened in the past, the Americans will offer some concessions to get more talks from the Chinese as a show of good faith,” Newsham told the NTD, a sister media outlet of The Epoch Times. “That’s one of my biggest concerns.”

“If I am wrong about this, I’ll be pleasantly surprised about that,” Mr. Newman added. “But that’s what I think’s going to happen. We’ve seen this before.

“It’s almost a repeatable process is we go and talk we offer something in good faith. The Chinese don’t really change much.”

The CCP appears to have toughened its stance ahead of Ms. Yellen’s trip. On July 3, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced export restrictions on gallium and germanium, which are metals critical to the manufacturing of semiconductors.

According to the Critical Raw Materials Alliance, China produces 80 percent of the world’s gallium and 60 percent of germanium.

China’s hawkish state-run media Global Times, in an article on Ms. Yellen’s trip published on June 27, warned that the window to repair U.S.-China relations was closing, and thus “Washington needs to make sincere moves rather than creating new troubles.”

In response to the Chinese regime’s new export controls, international lawyer Dan Harris said Beijing just provided another reason for companies to move their manufacturing capacities out of China.

“My law firm was already experiencing an uptick in companies seeking our help to exit China, and this will no doubt add to this,” Mr. Harris wrote on Twitter on July 4.

Frank Fannon, managing director of Fannon Global Advisors and a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, wished Ms. Yellen “good luck” in China, following Beijing’s announced export restrictions.

“Tough job when the CCP narrow or reject areas of ‘shared interest’ daily,” Mr. Fannon wrote on Twitter on July 5. “The U.S. should seize the opportunity to lead free nations with clarity and resolve. Start with strong & unambiguous rules that U.S. taxpayer-funded IRA subsidies will NOT benefit PRC minerals or tech providers.” People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the communist regime’s official name.

Under the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), about $370 billion in subsidies and trade privileges will be available to encourage clean manufacturing in the United States. However, there are concerns that Chinese companies may benefit from the electric vehicle tax credit embedded in the IRA.

Newly-Revised Espionage Law

Compounding the problems that foreign companies may face in China is Beijing’s newly-amended anti-espionage law, which came into force on July 1.

The sweeping legislation broadens the definition of espionage to “all documents, data, materials or items related to national security and interests,” according to official media Xinhua. But the legislation doesn’t specify what falls under national security, analysts noted, suggesting that could bring more risks to foreign companies and nationals in China.

Since March, the Chinese authorities have raided the offices of consultancy Capvision, questioned employees at Bain, and detained staff from both New York-based corporate intelligence firm Mintz and Japanese drug maker Astellas.

U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology recently warned of a “low-double-digit percentage” loss of its global revenue after being slapped with sanctions in China. China’s cybersecurity regulator in May said Micron failed its security review, without elaborating what risks it had found. That move means Micron’s products would be banned from Chinese companies operating critical infrastructure projects.

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The closed office of the Mintz Group is seen in an office building in Beijing on March 24, 2023. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

Craig Allen, president of the U.S.–China Business Council (USCBC), in a blog post in April, warned about the risk the new anti-espionage law could have on its members.

“The changes to the law are having a chilling effect on business sentiment, and confidence in China’s market will suffer further if the law is applied frequently and without a clear, narrow, and direct link to activities universally recognized as espionage,” Mr. Allen wrote.

“The revised law and recent cases indicate China’s heightened concern about multinational companies’ access to and use of data and information,” Allen continued. “As written, the law may be interpreted and enforced with an expansive view concerning the types of due diligence and similar customary business activities deemed illegal in China.”

From The Epoch Times

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