US’ restrictions on tech exports in focus during Raimondo’s high-stakes visit to China
Published: Aug 26, 2023 06:19 PM
US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Photo:VCG

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Photo:VCG

As US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo is due to arrive in China on Sunday for a high-stakes visit, Chinese experts said that whether or not the two sides can reach some constructive outcomes for ever-growing US restrictions on tech exports to China, which are overseen by Raimondo's agency, will be a test for the US' sincerity in pursuing dialogue with China.

Raimondo will visit China from Sunday to Wednesday, China's Ministry of Commerce announced this week. The trip is widely seen as another positive signal that China and the US remain committed to dialogue even as bilateral relations are still at the lowest ebb in decades.

Many, including US media outlets, have expressed high expectations for the trip. Bloomberg reported on Saturday that "Raimondo may have the best chance among the Biden officials who've make the trek to China recently of taking the current tension between the world's two biggest economies down a notch."

In China, many experts still express doubt about the US' sincerity in pursuing dialogue with China, because the US continues to step up crackdowns on China. They said that talks over ever-growing US restrictions on tech exports to China, which have been imposed by Raimondo's agency, would be a main focus.

He Weiwen, senior research fellow of the Center for China and Globalization, said that much attention of Raimondo's visit will focus on the issue of US restrictions on high-tech exports.

"We are interested in observing if there will be a constructive dialogue in this regard, since it could lay the foundation for further dealing with some economic and trade issues in the future," He told the Global Times on Saturday.

According to He, Raimondo will likely reiterate during her visit that the US is not "decoupling" from China, but this has been said many times, and "the key is to see what actual efforts the US side has made instead of what it has said."

The New York Times reported on Saturday that Raimondo will likely be the "clearest demonstration yet of the balancing act the Biden administration is trying to pull off in its relations with China," adding that Raimondo will travel to China to both promote trade and restrict it. In a worrisome signal, the report said that the US could expand restrictions on sales of chips, software and machinery to China's semiconductor industry after Raimondo's trip.

Chinese experts said that such an approach does not show US sincerity or help stabilize bilateral ties, if the US continues to impose arbitrary restrictions on normal trade and investment. If the US does not seek to decouple from China, it should not impose restrictions under the guise of an over-stretched concept of national security, experts said.

Still, Raimondo's trip comes as the US side has made several moves that are seen in China as friendly gestures. On Wednesday, the US State Department said that it was seeking a six-month extension of the US-China Science and Technology Agreement, which was signed decades ago and is due to expire on August 27.

This week, the US Commerce Department also removed 27 Chinese entities from its so-called "unverified list," which contains foreign entities that are restricted from purchasing US technologies. In a separate move, the US Department of Transportation announced that it has agreed to add six more flights operated by Chinese airlines, effective September 1.

"Such moves indicate that the Biden administration is gradually realizing that relentless suppression and restraint of China's development will impact America's own interests," Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Saturday.

"It also suggested that the US still has a strong desire to improve the current economic and trade relations with China, which is consistent with China's goal over the matter," Gao said, adding that Raimondo's visit to China is a good signal, and both sides have done enough homework for this visit.

However, more observation is still needed regarding the possible result of her visit, and more efforts need to be made by the US side in creating a good atmosphere for the stability of bilateral relations, experts said.

Maintaining stable economic and trade relations between China and the US is not only crucial for both parties at present, but also for the world at large, He said, noting "tangible outcomes rather than mere rhetoric is needed in this regard."

Global Times