Blinken discusses Chinese business practices in meetings with Shanghai financial center officials

Blinken met with the city’s top official, Communist Party Secretary Chen Jining, and “raised concerns about (Chinese) trade policies and non-market economic practices,” the State Department said in a statement.

He stressed that the United States seeks healthy economic competition with China and “a level playing field for American workers and businesses operating in China.”

“Both sides reaffirmed the importance of ties between the people of the United States and (China), including expanding exchanges between students, scholars and businesses,” the statement said.

China’s multibillion-dollar trade surplus with the United States, as well as accusations of intellectual property theft and other practices seen as discriminatory against American companies in China, have long been a source friction in relationships.

Asked about Blinken’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China “has always carried out economic and trade cooperation in accordance with market principles, firmly supported the multilateral trading system and “is fully compliant with the rules of the World Trade Organization.”

“We hope that the United States will also sincerely uphold the principle of fair competition, abide by WTO rules, and work with China to create favorable conditions for the healthy and stable development of China-US economic and trade relations,” he said. Wang told reporters at a news conference. daily briefing.

Blinken also spoke with students and business leaders before flying to Beijing for what are expected to be contentious talks with national officials, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi and possibly President Xi Jinping.

Blinken arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday shortly before U.S. President Joe Biden signed a $95 billion foreign aid package that has several elements likely to anger Beijing, including $8 billion to counter growing aggressiveness of China towards Taiwan and in the South China Sea. It also seeks to force TikTok’s parent company, based in China, to sell the social media platform.

China denounced US aid to Taiwan and immediately condemned the aid as a dangerous provocation. He also strongly opposes efforts to force the sale of TikTok.

Still, the fact that Blinken made the trip — shortly after a conversation between Biden and Xi, a visit to China by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and a call between U.S. and Chinese defense chiefs — is a sign that both parties are at least willing to discuss their differences.

“I think it’s important to emphasize the value – in fact, the necessity – of direct engagement, of talking to each other, of exposing our differences, which are real, and seeking to overcome them,” Blinken said in Chen, according to the state. Department statement.

“We have an obligation to our people, indeed an obligation to the world, to manage relations between our two countries responsibly,” he said. “This is our obligation and we take it very seriously.”

Chen agreed with the sentiment and said the recent Biden-Xi call contributed to the “stable and healthy development of relations between our two countries.”

“Whether we choose cooperation or confrontation affects the well-being of the two peoples, the two countries, as well as the future of humanity,” he said.

Chen added that he hoped Blinken would be able to get a “deep impression and understanding” of Shanghai, a city of skyscrapers, ports and more than 25 million people that attracts commercially ambitious young people from China and abroad.

More recently, the United States has raised concerns that potential overcapacity in Chinese industries — such as electric vehicles, steel and solar panels — could crowd out U.S. and foreign manufacturers.

Shortly after his arrival, Blinken attended a Chinese basketball playoff game between the local Shanghai Sharks and the Zhejiang Golden Bulls, with the home team losing in the final seconds in a 121-120 draw.

As the US presidential race heats up, it’s unclear what implications a victory for Biden or former President Donald Trump could have on the relationship. But Trump could escalate a trade war he started during his first term. His harsh rhetoric toward China and isolationist approach to foreign policy could increase uncertainties.