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US commerce secretary kicks off visit to China

TRADE TENSIONS

Relations between Washington and Beijing have plummeted to some of their worst levels in decades, with Washington’s trade curbs near the top of the laundry list of disagreements.

Washington says its restrictions are crucial to safeguarding national security, while Beijing sees them as seeking to curb its economic rise.

This month, Biden issued an executive order aimed at restricting certain American investments in sensitive high-tech areas in China – a move Beijing blasted as being “anti-globalisation”.

The long-anticipated rules, expected to be implemented next year, target sectors like semiconductors and artificial intelligence.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had sought to reassure Chinese officials about the expected curbs during a visit to Beijing last month, promising any new moves would be implemented in a transparent way.

US climate envoy John Kerry also visited in July.

And in June, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Beijing, where he met Xi and said progress had been made on a number of key sources of contention.

But neither Yellen’s nor Blinken’s visit led to major breakthroughs, and a recent Camp David summit between the United States, South Korea and Japan aimed in part at countering China sparked condemnation from Beijing.

Following that summit, President Biden said he still expected to meet Chinese leader Xi again this year.

Biden is inviting Xi to San Francisco in November when the United States holds a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which includes China.

The two leaders could potentially also meet next month in New Delhi on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 major economies.

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