- US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is set to meet with senior Chinese officials and US business leaders in Beijing as the two countries continue their high-level talks.
- Raimondo arrived in Beijing on Sunday evening and began a visit at the invitation of her counterpart, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.
- According to Susan Thornton, who previously served as Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the State Department, her trip is a crucial but difficult one as U.S.-China economic relations are at stake.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo speaks during a Reuters interview at the Department of Commerce in Washington September 23, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is set to meet with senior Chinese officials and US business leaders in Beijing as the two countries continue their high-level talks.
According to a former senior U.S. diplomat, their trip is a crucial but difficult one as U.S.-China economic ties are at stake.
“Gina Raimondo’s trip will be difficult as she needs to speak to the Chinese about their concerns that the US is trying to contain and slow down the Chinese economy,” Susan Thornton told CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia. “
Thornton was previously Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. she said In addition to promoting and stabilizing trade relations with China, Raimondo also wants to “do some business for US companies”.
“So it’s a tough visit. But I think the Chinese welcome it and want some positive messages to come out of it,” said Thornton, who is now a senior fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center.
Raimondo arrived in Beijing on Sunday evening and began a visit at the invitation of her counterpart, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.
In an opening speech, Wang said China is willing to work together to create “a more favorable policy environment” for US and Chinese companies.
Items on Raimondo’s agenda are likely to include improving tourism, export controls and cross-border data flows, Thornton said.
According to the US Travel Association, China was the largest source of outbound travelers to the United States in 2019, and outbound travel from China to the United States this year has recovered to just 30% of 2019 levels.
Asked if the tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump could be reversed, Thornton said, “I don’t think that’s going to happen because of this trip.”
China’s economy is in “much bigger trouble” than people estimated this time last year, she said.
“I think the US also sees dangers from the slowing Chinese economy at the same time, which will have global implications, but certainly for the US economy as well.”
China recently reported lower-than-expected second-quarter gross domestic product and record-breaking youth unemployment before the breakdown of the headline figures stopped.
“It is also in our interest to stabilize trade relations between the world’s two largest economies,” Thornton said.
– CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.