September 6, 2023: On Sunday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met with Chinese officials in a high-stakes visit to Beijing and Shanghai, and she said that the trip helped establish open lines of communication between the two nations.
Raimondo is the fourth high-level U.S. official to visit China this summer, but she is the first U.S. Commerce secretary to travel to the country in five years. During this period, the bilateral relationship has grown increasingly tense.
“We are in severe contest with China at every level, and anyone who tells you differently is naive,” Raimondo told on Sunday. “All of that being said, we ought to organize this contest. Conflict is in no one’s interest.”
Raimondo stated that a lack of communication between the U.S. and China could further escalate tensions and lead to misunderstandings, so structured discussions are vital for addressing commercial issues that arise.
The Commerce secretary’s trip to China followed recent visits from U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. But Raimondo’s visit was questioned after Chinese hackers breached her emails earlier this summer.
“They did hack me, which was unappreciated. I brought it up clearly; put it right on the table,” she said on Sunday. “Didn’t pull any punches.”
She said Raimondo brought up national security, U.S. labor, and U.S. business matters.
In the fall of 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security announced new export management that limited the ability of Chinese businesses to buy certain advanced semiconductors from American suppliers.
On Sunday, Raimondo said that the export controls are about national security, not gaining an economic advantage. She added that the U.S. will remain as hard-line as possible with its most advanced technology.
“We are not going to sell the most sophisticated American chips to China they want for their military capacity,” Raimondo said. “But I want to be clear; we will continue to trade billions of dollars of chips a year to China because the vast majority of chips made are not the leading edge, slicing-edge I’m talking about.”
Though the export controls remain a nuanced and complex policy, selling specific chips to China will ultimately generate income for American businesses to invest in further research and action.