Until earlier this year there had been very little contact between Washington and Beijing on economic issues as relations had become fractured during the previous five years, starting with former US president Donald Trump’s tariff war with Beijing and more recently the increasing US national security restrictions on US technologies.
A change in China’s economic leadership had meant that the Treasury needed to build up new contacts in Beijing from scratch, starting with Yellen’s trip to Beijing in July, where she first met with He, a senior Treasury official said on Friday.
Yellen and He’s meetings on Thursday and Friday did not produce any specific actions, but the two sides did agree on some common language to describe the engagement, an unusual step in recent US-China interactions.
Under the jointly negotiated language, they agreed to “work toward common solutions, address disagreements where possible and avoid misperceptions contributing to unintended escalations”.
The two sides agreed to seek “a healthy economic relationship that provides a level playing field for companies and workers in both countries and benefits the two peoples.”
“Sino-US economic relations are rooted in the common interests of both countries in the economic field, which objectively benefits each other and their people,” said Liao Min, Chinese Vice Finance Minister.
“Mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the United States has strong momentum, a solid foundation and broad space, but the pre-requisite is equality and mutual respect.”
Liao added that he hoped the two countries will work in the same direction and take practical actions to “create the necessary conditions for the maintenance and development of economic relations between the two countries”, according to a statement published on the Ministry of Finance website.
The senior Treasury official acknowledged that the US and China may perceive what constitutes a level playing field differently, but the US side can now point out policies that are inconsistent with that.
They also committed to strengthening the global financial architecture, including through a recently approved International Monetary Fund quota funding increase and plans to “increase the voice of under-represented members/regions”, a reference to a bigger shareholding for China.
Source: Channel News Asia