Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has warned that Beijing must make reforms to attract and retain American investment
The patience of US executives over business conditions in China is “wearing thin” because Beijing has failed to provide a predictable and fair business environment, a top official in President Joe Biden’s administration has warned.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo critiqued China’s treatment of American businesses in a CBS News interview on Sunday, four days after returning from a trip to Beijing. Despite claiming “progress” in trying to help mend strained Sino-US economic relations, she said “there can be no trust” until Chinese officials follow through on their pledges to address Washington’s concerns.
“We want a large and stable economic relationship with them, but they have to play by the rules,” Raimondo said. “And we are always going to act in our own American self-interest.”
Raimondo became the fourth high-level US official to travel to Beijing this summer as the Biden administration seeks to repair a relationship that has been fractured in recent years by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and rising tensions over Taiwan. She’s also the first US commerce secretary to hold talks in China in five years. She claimed that she made the trip because the Chinese business environment has become increasingly hostile for US corporations, which have been subjected to unfounded raids and fines in recent months.
“They are going to make a business decision to do business in other countries unless that improves,” Raimondo said. “And so, I was very clear with China that we need to – patience is wearing thin among American business. They need and deserve a predictable environment and a level playing field. And hopefully China will heed that message so we can have a stable, growing commercial relationship.”
Raimondo said she “didn’t sugarcoat anything” in her talks with Chinese leaders. For instance, she said she brought up the fact that her email was hacked before her trip to Beijing. “They suggested that they didn’t know about it, and they suggested it wasn’t intentional,” Raimondo said in a separate interview with CNN. “But I think it was important that I put it on the table and let them know that it’s hard to build trust when you have actions like that.”
The US commerce czar acknowledged that Washington is in a “fierce competition with China at every level,” but she told NBC News that the rivalry must be managed to avoid conflict. Although she insisted that the US isn’t trying to “decouple” from China economically, she rejected an appeal from Beijing to ease export controls on advanced semiconductors with possible military applications.
“We are not going to sell the most sophisticated American chips to China that they want for their military capacity,” Raimondo told NBC News on Sunday. “But I do want to be clear: We will also still continue to sell billions of dollars of chips a year to China because the vast majority of chips that are made are not the leading edge, cutting edge that we’re talking about.”