Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will travel to Beijing later this week as part of ongoing efforts by the Biden administration to deepen communication between the US and China after what has been a particularly fraught and unstable time, the Treasury Department announced Sunday evening.
Yellen will be the second Cabinet-level member to travel to China in the last month. And although the visit will mark another high-level engagement between the two superpowers, no “significant breakthroughs” are expected, with the conversations over her three-day trip expected to be “constructive” and “frank,” according to a senior Treasury official. Yellen is not expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to the official.
Her trip comes after President Joe Biden compared China’s leader to “dictators” at a political fundraiser last month – remarks that threatened to destabilize ties roughly one day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said his recent trip had yielded “progress” in repairing the fractured relationship between Washington and Beijing.
Yellen is expected to meet with senior Chinese officials as well as leading US firms. She will discuss “areas of concern,” like documented allegations of human rights abuses and ways to responsibly manage competition between the two powers, as well as areas where they can work together on global challenges like climate change, the official said.
The trip is the first face-to-face meeting between Yellen and her Chinese counterpart since a new economic team took over in Beijing, the official said, adding it will give them the opportunity to make “serious connections.”
Along with other US officials, Yellen has long signaled the Biden administration’s desire to deepen communication and lower the temperature between the world’s top two economies.
In testimony before Congress in April, Yellen stressed the importance of maintaining ties with China and said that “decoupling would be a big mistake,” though she noted that human rights abuses in China and questionable trade policies must be “addressed.” In June, she
told a group of top American CEOs that it is critical for the US to work with China on specific and urgent global challenges.
As US officials increase the frequency of their contacts with Chinese counterparts, Biden has said he hopes to meet with Xi soon.
“I’m hoping that over the next several months, I’ll be meeting with Xi again, talking about legitimate differences we have but also how there’s areas we can get along,” Biden told reporters in June.