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Yellen to lay out U.S. economic priorities on China in Thursday speech


FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is seen before the start of a plenary session of the Development Committee at the World Bank during the 2023 Spring Meetings in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday will lay out the Biden administration’s principal objectives for the U.S.-China economic relationship in a speech in Washington, the Treasury said on Tuesday as tensions between the world’s two largest economies has thwarted high-level meetings.

Yellen, who said last week she still hopes to visit Beijing to meet with her new Chinese economic counterparts, will deliver remarks at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, the Treasury said in a statement.

Yellen’s speech will detail the Biden administration’s economic priorities on China, including securing U.S. national security interests, fostering “healthy” competition and cooperating, where possible, on global issues such as climate change, debt relief and macroeconomic stability.

Yellen also is expected to highlight U.S. economic strength.

“During her remarks, Secretary Yellen will underscore that in its bilateral relationship with China, the United States proceeds with confidence about the enduring fundamental strength of our economy,” the Treasury said, adding that she will discuss growth-enhancing investments in infrastructure, advanced semiconductor manufacturing and clean energy technologies.

The scheduling of the speech follows last week’s International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings, where Yellen interacted with Chinese finance officials, including People’s Bank of China governor Yi Gang, in plenary meetings and in a roundtable meeting aimed at ways to speed debt relief to poor countries.

After U.S. President Joe Biden’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Bali, Yellen has had several interactions with Chinese counterparts, including a meeting in January in Zurich with then-Vice Premier Liu He, at which they agreed to enhance communications on macroeconomic and finance issues.

In-person meetings since then have been delayed by the controversy over the downing of a Chinese surveillance balloon that transited the continental U.S., and tensions over Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with U.S. House of Representative Kevin McCarthy.

A Treasury official said the speech comes at an opportune time just after Yellen also spoke last week with counterparts from G7 democracies, Australia and New Zealand. Another audience for the remarks is China’s new economic leadership team led by Liu’s replacement, Vice Premier He Lifeng.

Yellen will lay out U.S. priorities for “securing our national security interests and protecting human rights, including taking targeted actions to advance our vital interests where needed,” the Treasury said.,

She also will stress the need for “healthy, and mutually beneficial, economic competition with a level playing field for American workers and businesses, including by working with our allies to press China¬†on its¬†unfair economic practices,” the Treasury added.

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