China Daily

Yellen’s visit expected to help nudge Sino-US ties back on the right track

Among major US government officials, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is known for the often pragmatic and relatively positive tone she strikes in terms of how to manage Sino-US relations. She has reiterated that the United States is not seeking to decouple from China and called for a “constructive” and “healthy” economic relationship between the two countries.

“The world is big enough for both of our countries to thrive,” she said.

Her reasonable voice, which comes in sharp contrast to the barbed comments of the anti-China hawks in Washington is most needed nowadays when the latter keep threatening to push bilateral relations onto a collision course. This anti-China rhetoric is becoming increasingly strident in Washington as the US presidential election campaign heats up, which bodes ill if not tempered given the difficult situation that bilateral relationship already finds itself in.

Thus it is welcome news that Yellen, according to US media, will travel to China next month as part of efforts to “responsibly manage” bilateral ties. The face-to-face meetings she is scheduled to hold with Chinese officials should certainly help the two sides increase trust and stabilize their relationship by airing their differences and seeking to resolve them on some pertinent issues.

It will be Yellen’s second trip to Beijing within a year. Her visit in July was among a series of visits by high-ranking US officials to China, including those of Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in August, that sought to put a brake on the free fall in the two countries’ relations. Yellen’s last visit achieved positive results, as it resulted in the formation of new economic and financial working groups designed for “frank and substantive discussions” on contentious issues.

Thus hopes are high that Yellen’s upcoming visit will yield more productive outcomes that can help give a boost to ties by removing some of the hurdles hindering the development of healthy, stable and sustainable bilateral relations. This is crucial given the heightened tensions between the two countries recently as a result of US moves.

The House of Representatives, for example, passed a bill early this month that could ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok in the US using national security as a pretext. The US government is also reportedly considering blacklisting a number of Chinese semiconductor companies linked to the Chinese telecommunications enterprise Huawei.

Such suppressive actions belie Washington’s claim that it does not seek conflict with China, and run counter to the agreement reached by the two countries’ top leaders that they would work to manage the Sino-US relationship responsibly. All this requires a productive channel of communication to be established between the two sides, which is what is expected from Yellen’s visit.

Given her experience of working with China and the trust she has gained from her Chinese counterparts, Yellen is well-suited to play the bridging role. She has said that the Joe Biden administration’s economic strategy is centered on investing in US infrastructure, clean energy and technology manufacturing, “not suppressing or containing any other economy”. And she has made it clear that China’s economic growth “need not be incompatible with US economic leadership”. It would be good for all if such thinking could become an integral part of the US’ policies toward China.

Her visit, of course, will not solve all the problems facing Sino-US relations. But surely it can help steady the two sides’ relations on a more stable course. After all, China and the US stand to gain from cooperation, and lose from confrontation.

Editorial, China Daily

Categories China Daily Opinion