Gina Raimondo announces progress in China talks on export controls

Gina Raimondo announces progress in China talks on export controls

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the U.S. and China agreed Monday to share information on thorny export control issues, amid Biden administration concerns that the communist regime is allowing the theft of American research and technology.

Ms. Raimondo, the latest senior Biden administration official to travel to Beijing after relations neared a crisis point earlier this year, on Monday touted the need for greater international collaboration, despite a cyberattack on her department linked to China ahead of her visit.

Ms. Raimondo said the U.S. was committed to transparency about export controls in remarks to reporters at Ambassador Nicholas Burns’ official residence. Washington and Beijing also agreed to more trade talks on tariffs and other restrictions the two economic superpowers have imposed in recent years.

“We are not compromising or negotiating in matters of national security,” she said. “But this is meant to be a dialogue where we increase transparency.” 

In a goodwill gesture, the Biden administration removed 27 Chinese companies from a blacklist limiting access to U.S. technology last week on the same day Ms. Raimondo’s visit to Beijing was announced. 

The Commerce Department said Monday that Ms. Raimondo and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao agreed for the U.S. and China to form the export control enforcement information exchange, establish a “commercial issues working group” focused on trade and investment matters, and to meet in person annually at the secretary and minister level. 

SEE ALSO: Chinese electronic spies target Taiwan, Microsoft report claims

The first in-person meeting for the export information exchange between the U.S. and Chinese governments is set for Tuesday.

The new overtures to China from the Commerce Department come amid criticism that the parade of U.S. officials to Beijing is misguided, at a time when the government of Chinese President Xi Jinping has remained sharply critical of U.S. economic and security policies. Ms. Raimondo’s trip followed earlier visits this summer by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and chief climate envoy John Kerry.

Mary Kissel, former adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Trump administration, said that Ms. Raimondo’s approach was “exactly backward” in a post on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. 

“Feels like the [White House] has lost control over their departments — State, Commerce, etc. all pursuing their own interests,” Ms. Kissel said on Monday.

China is welcoming the U.S. officials, critics note, while still refusing U.S. entreaties to resume direct military-to-military communications or to accept calls from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Ms. Raimondo has an interest in making history. She told CNBC in July she would not let a China-linked cyberattack on her department stop her from making the first visit by a commerce secretary to the region in several years. 

She declined to say in July whether suspected Chinese hackers breached her personal email but called the cyberattack on her agency, “very significant, very complex.”

Alongside the Commerce Department, the State Department and one congressman, Rep. Don Bacon, are known victims of the China-linked hack that victimized Microsoft customers earlier this year. 

In China, Ms. Raimondo also defended the Biden administration’s efforts to increase domestic production of semiconductors and high-tech goods that the communist country has seen as an attempt to isolate it. 

“We believe a strong Chinese economy is a good thing,” Ms. Raimondo told the Chinese official. “We seek healthy competition with China. A growing Chinese economy that plays by the rules is in both of our interests.”

Mr. Wang told Ms. Raimondo that Beijing was willing to work together and bolster bilateral trade and investment. 

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.