Yellen to Host Chinese Vice Premier for Talks in San Francisco Ahead of Start of APEC Summit

Yellen to Host Chinese Vice Premier for Talks in San Francisco Ahead of Start of APEC Summit – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is scheduled to meet with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng for a two-day discussion this week. This marks the latest in a series of high-level dialogues between U.S. and Chinese officials, as the world’s two largest economies work towards reducing tensions. The announcement was made by the Treasury Department on Monday.

The Yellen-He discussions are planned for Thursday and Friday and precede the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, starting on November 11. It is anticipated that President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have their first face-to-face meeting in almost a year during this summit. 

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“As a foundation, our two nations have an obligation to establish resilient lines of open communication and to prevent our disagreements from spiraling into conflict,” Yellen wrote in a Washington Post op-ed to spotlight the upcoming meeting. “But we also know that our relationship cannot be circumscribed to crisis management.”

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The meeting between these two high-ranking government officials follows a recent one-hour discussion between President Biden and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the White House late last month. This meeting took place during Wang Yi’s visit to Washington for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan. 

In a similar fashion, President Xi Jinping had a meeting with Secretary of State Blinken back in June when Blinken traveled to Beijing for discussions with Foreign Minister Wang. Secretary Janet Yellen had her most recent encounter with her counterpart, He Lifeng, during her visit to Beijing in July. During this visit, Yellen emphasized the importance of cooperation on global challenges such as climate change and urged Chinese government officials not to let significant disagreements on trade and other issues disrupt their relations.

China’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that He Lifeng, who plays a key role in U.S.-China economic and trade matters, is scheduled to visit the United States from November 8 to 12. Yellen is expected to amplify the message on climate during her talks with He in San Francisco. Treasury in a statement said that Yellen will also underscore that the Biden administration “will take targeted action to advance our national security and that of our allies, and protect human rights, but we do not use these tools to seek economic advantage.”

Tensions between the two nations persist, particularly in relation to U.S. export controls on advanced technology. The Biden administration has also raised concerns about Beijing’s economic practices, which it believes have placed U.S. companies and workers in unfavorable positions. Furthermore, the United States has voiced criticism regarding China’s lending practices associated with its $1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative, which encompasses a network of projects and maritime routes spanning significant parts of the world, primarily in Asia and Africa. 

Critics, including the Biden administration, contend that China’s projects frequently lead to substantial debt burdens for nations and increase their vulnerability to Beijing’s influence. Yellen in her op-ed wrote she would raise during the meetings the administration’s “serious concerns with Beijing’s unfair economic practices, including its large-scale use of non-market tools, its barriers to market access and its coercive actions against U.S. firms in China.”

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The United States has consistently expressed its apprehensions regarding China’s assertive actions in the East and South China seas. Just last month, the U.S. military released a video illustrating a Chinese fighter jet flying perilously close, within 10 feet (three meters), of an American B-52 bomber over the South China Sea, almost resulting in a collision. 

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Earlier in October, the Pentagon shared footage of more than 180 instances of Chinese aircraft intercepting U.S. warplanes in the past two years, a trend that U.S. military officials find worrisome. Furthermore, the United States has reiterated its commitment to defend the Philippines in the event of an armed attack, as per a security agreement. 

This renewal of the warning came after Chinese ships obstructed and collided with two Philippine vessels near a disputed shoal in the South China Sea. In response, Beijing has released its own videos showcasing close encounters in the region, including footage of the USS Ralph Johnson executing a sharp turn and crossing in front of a Chinese navy ship. The U.S. destroyer was also observed sailing between two Chinese ships.

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