Chinese finance minister hails economic recovery, continues talks with US at APEC
China-US official exchanges continue amid expectations for stable ties
Published: Nov 14, 2023 08:51 PM
Reporters work at the media center for the APEC meetings on November 12, 2023 in San Francisco. The APEC Economic Leaders' Week runs from November 11 to 17. Photo: Xinhua

Reporters work at the media center for the APEC meetings on November 12, 2023 in San Francisco. The APEC Economic Leaders' Week runs from November 11 to 17. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese Finance Minister Lan Fo'an has used his first official overseas trip since becoming the finance minister last month to express confidence about China's economic recovery and urge APEC economies to strengthen macro-policy coordination and boost free trade and investment, according to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Tuesday. 

Attending the APEC finance ministers meeting in San Francisco, the US, the Chinese finance minister met with several foreign officials, including US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in yet another sign of increasing exchanges between Chinese and US economic officials ahead of a highly anticipated leaders meeting later this week. 

At the finance ministers meeting held from Sunday to Monday, Lan noted unstable and weak momentum for the global economic recovery, sluggish trade and investment and difficulties for sustainable development. 

"All parties should strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, build a closer regional industry chain and supply chain, and jointly build an open Asia-Pacific and world economy," Lan said. 

The minister said that China's economy has maintained an upward recovery trend this year. Starting in the third quarter, positive changes and internal growth momentum have gained pace. It's expected that the economy will maintain an upward trend in the fourth quarter, Lan said, adding that China is still an important driver of stable growth.

Lan was appointed finance minister on October 24, and the trip to the US marks his first overseas trip as the Chinese finance minister. On the sidelines of the APEC finance meeting, Lan met with several foreign officials, including the Indonesian and Australian finance ministers, according to the MOF. His meeting with Yellen marks the latest talks between Chinese and US economic officials. 

While the MOF did not offer details on the meeting between Lan and Yellen as of press time, the US treasury secretary said that the meeting was "productive" and "another opportunity to deepen communication between our two countries." Yellen said that she emphasized that US President Joe Biden and "I believe our countries can engage in healthy economic competition."

The meeting came just days after Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng and Yellen met in San Francisco last week and had what both sides described as "candid and productive" talks. During the talks, both sides agreed to further strengthen communication and stressed that China and the US are not seeking economic decoupling, the MOF said earlier. 

Over the past few months, China and the US have witnessed frequent and close exchanges on a wider range of topics, which are good signals for the gradual restoration of China-US economic and trade relations, Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

While commending the increasing exchanges between Chinese and US economic officials, Chinese analysts called on the US to clarify its position of calling for "healthy competition" and fulfill its promises with concrete actions. 

While Washington frequently stresses that it seeks "healthy economic competition" with China, it should give a clear definition of the phrase, Li said, noting that launching sweeping tariffs on Chinese goods, restricting exports of chips to China and seeking to build a "small yard, high fence" are in effect promoting decoupling and not healthy competition. Healthy competition should be win-win instead of gaining an edge through crackdowns on others, he said.  

Huo Jianguo, a vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday that China has taken concrete measures to help stabilize bilateral ties and it is time for the US to reciprocate with sincere actions.

For example, China has been pushing to resume direct flights between the two countries. Ahead of the APEC economic meeting, China signed contracts to purchase billions of dollars worth of US agricultural products, showcasing China's goodwill and sincerity in restoring China-US relations, Huo said.

"The US should seize this crucial opportunity and showcase enough sincerity in the new round of engagement so as to boost the restoration of bilateral ties," Huo said. "The US must match its words with deeds, and not just pay lip service."

Experts have repeatedly called on the US to remove tariffs on Chinese goods, stop crackdowns on Chinese enterprises and ensure smooth trade and investment.

Meanwhile, as China continues to open its market to foreign businesses, US firms remain very upbeat about the Chinese market. 

Patrick Liu, Asia-Pacific president of New York-based Neuberger Berman Group, told the Global Times in a recent interview, "The strategic importance of the Chinese market cannot be underestimated."

"We believe that there is still considerable potential for China's growth in the global capital market, largely hinging on the openness of the Chinese capital market. Foreign institutional investors, such as US corporate and government pensions, typically allocate less than 5 percent of their global portfolios to China," Liu said. 

"With the country's persistent efforts at advancing opening-up and restructuring its capital market, we anticipate a steady inflow of overseas capital to China in the coming years," he said.