China’s commerce chief presses US Senate leader Schumer on trade restrictions

China’s commerce minister “specifically” raised concerns over American restrictions on trade and technology during a meeting in Beijing with visiting US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, according to a statement by China’s Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday.

During discussions on Monday that were described as “rational and pragmatic”, Wang Wentao said China hoped the US could “precisely define security boundaries and avoid overgeneralising and politicising security issues, and weaponising [commerce and trade activities with China].”

US senators defy backlash at home to test China’s engagement first-hand

Wang stressed the need for fair treatment of Chinese companies investing in the US, saying: “China does not shy away from competition, but competition should be based on international economic and trade rules, and should be fair and constructive.”

Wang said China was willing to work with the US to create a favourable business environment that could boost bilateral trade.

Schumer said Washington wants to strengthen communications and exchanges with Beijing, adding that both congressional Republicans and Democrats value the bilateral economic and trade relationship and do not seek “decoupling” from China, according to the readout.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping meets top US senator, says China-US ties impact ‘destiny of mankind’

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets top US senator, says China-US ties impact ‘destiny of mankind’

The discussion was among a series of meetings the US delegation has held with the Chinese leadership since arriving in Shanghai on Saturday as part of their three-country tour, with trips to South Korea and Japan to follow.

The visit marks the first US congressional visit to China since 2019 and is seen as a move to help lay the groundwork for a potential meeting between the US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco in November as a series of trade disputes continue to simmer.

Before the delegation left for China, the US Commerce department added 42 more Chinese companies to its export blacklist, accusing the firms of offering technical support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Beijing strongly condemned the move, calling it “a typical act of economic coercion and unilateral bullying”.

Concerns over trade restrictions also came up when the US delegation met Xi, who told them the two countries “do not necessarily have to head to a confrontation”, adding that the economies of both countries are “deeply intertwined”.

China, US need not go head to head, Xi Jinping tells American senators

The senators have stressed the need for “level playing fields”, and have urged Beijing to remove restrictions and open up Chinese markets to US companies, including the semiconductor, financial services and aerospace industries. In recent months, China has targeted several US companies over security concerns, including Bain & Company, Mintz Group, Capvision and Micron.

China was America’s largest trading partner until 2019 when it was overtaken by Mexico and Canada, according to latest data from the US Library of Congress. The US remains China’s largest individual trading partner, followed by Japan, according to data from China’s Ministry of Commerce in June.

In addition to meetings with the commerce minister, the US delegation also met Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Shanghai’s Communist Party chief Chen Jining.

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