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Setting up mechanism to address specific trade issues may be the best outcome from Raimondo’s China visit: expert

《环球时报》 2023-08-28

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo (second from left) shakes hands with Director General Lin Feng of the American and Oceania Affairs Department of China's Ministry of Commerce as she arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport on August 27, 2023. Photo: VCG

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo's statement shows that the US side hopes to ease China-US economic and trade relationship through strengthening exchanges, but the Biden administration should show sincerity when it says seeking healthy competition with China, Chinese observers said on Monday, urging the US side to reduce rivalry, stop containment on China and remove trade and investment restrictions.

Raimondo stressed the importance of stable economic ties between China and the US during a meeting with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao on Monday, saying that the US seeks healthy competition and has no intention to hinder China's economic progress.

We believe a strong Chinese economy is a good thing. We seek healthy competition with China. A growing Chinese economy that plays by the rules is in both of our interests, Raimondo said, domestic news site ifeng.com reported on Monday.

Raimondo is the fourth senior US official to visit China since June, following Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

However, Chinese experts stressed that there shouldn't be high expectations for Raimondo's visit unless the US shows real and enough sincerity.

Raimondo's statement shows that the US side still hopes to ease the China-US economic and trade relationship through exchanges so as to solve specific problems, Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Monday.

However, the US' treatment of economic and trade issues with China serves its overall strategies toward China, which is characterized mainly by restrictions and containment. Thereby, we shouldn't have too many expectations for Raimondo's visit, Wu said.

Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade, said Raimondo's mentioning that the US is seeking a healthy competition sends a false signal that the US is ready to cooperate with China, and the reality is that it is a typical US hegemonic mode of cooperation that serves only the US' interests.

There is no clear definition to the US' so-called healthy definition, and what we see is continuous decoupling from and containment of China under the mind-set of a small yard, high fence thinking, Li told the Global Times on Monday.

While Raimondo said the Chinese economy should play by the rules, it is the US rather than China that is violating rules and conducting economic coercion, Wu said. The China-US trade war and tech war that the US launched over the past several years changed the landscape of China-US economic and trade relationship. In addition, the US also paralyzed WTO dispute settlement system and didn't comply with WTO's rulings, he said.

Wu projected that China and the US may set up related mechanism to deal with specific problems hindering bilateral trade relationship, for example remaining tariffs imposed on Chinese goods and the US' export restrictions on China.

However, the root cause of the challenges in the China-US economic and trade relationship lies in the growing aggressive nationalism in the US since former US president Donald Trump took office, Wu said, noting that unless the first button of issues in China-US economic and trade relationship is tackled, any fancy ideas would remain nothing more than a castle in the air, experts said.

The US has a lot to do in order to show sincere willingness that it hopes to promote economic and trade cooperation with China, Li said, urging the US side to reduce rivalry, stop containment on China and remove trade and investment restrictions.