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In China, Blinken To Bring Up Russia, Urge Fair Treatment For US Companies


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with senior officials from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Shanghai and Beijing on Thursday. According to a State Department release, Blinken will be in China from April 24-26. The release states: “The Secretary will meet with senior PRC officials in Shanghai and Beijing to discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, including the crisis in the Middle East, Russia’s war against Ukraine, cross-Strait issues, and the South China Sea. The Secretary will also discuss ongoing work to fulfill the commitments made by Presidents Biden and Xi at the Woodside Summit in November on resuming counternarcotics cooperation, military-to-military communication, artificial intelligence, and strengthening people-to-people ties, and will reiterate the importance of the United States and the PRC responsibly managing competition, even in areas where our two countries disagree.”

Assistance to Russia is expected to be top on Blinken’s agenda in his discussions with Chinese officials in Shanghai. After this, he will head to Beijing for another round of meetings. He may also have a possible face-to-face meeting with President Xi Jinping on Friday.

Blinken is expected to try and convince Beijing to halt trade which Washington claims has enabled Russia’s industrial base to rebuild,  despite western curbs. China has claimed through its foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin that it conducts “normal economic and trade exchanges with all countries – including Russia – on the basis of equality and mutual benefit cannot be interfered with.”

Blinken is also expected to argue for a level playing field for American businesses. So far, raids by Chinese police on foreign firms has created fear among Western firms operating in China. According to data from a Reuters poll, exports from the world’s second largest economy rose by 7.1% in the January-to-February period, beating the 1.9% growth forecast. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Chinese industrial firms have also registered a jump by 10.2% in the first two months of this year, as opposed to last year showing manufacturing is on the rise.

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This has concerned Washington, and during her visit to China, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raised concerns that potential overcapacity in Chinese industries — such as electric vehicles, steel making and solar panels — might crowd out US and other foreign manufacturers.

Blinken is expected to follow up on these concerns, and State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that at a meeting with China’s top official in Shanghai, Chen Jining, Blinken raised concerns about China’s “trade policies and non-market economic practices.”

China has so far dismissed as “groundless” criticism that its manufacturing capacity is excessive, adding that its industries, ranging from electric vehicles to solar panels, are “competitive” and “innovative.”

(With inputs from Reuters)