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Lan Fo’an, China’s finance minister (left), pictured with Paul Chan Mo-po, Hong Kong’s financial secretary, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco last November. Photo: Bloomberg

Senior Chinese officials voice concerns on US tariffs, investment curbs in ‘candid’ bilateral meeting

  • Third meeting of Economic Working Group also covered financial cooperation within the G20 framework, industrial policies and debt issues
  • US delegates in Beijing raised issues with China’s overcapacity and its impact on American workers and firms

Senior Chinese economic officials meeting their US counterparts in Beijing this week voiced concerns over tariffs, investment restrictions and sanctions on mainland firms, according to China’s Ministry of Finance.

In the third meeting of the Economic Working Group between the world’s two largest economies, officials held “in-depth, candid, pragmatic and constructive communication” over the domestic macroeconomics and policies, a statement from the ministry’s website said.

The two-day meeting ended on Tuesday and also covered financial cooperation within the Group of 20 framework, industrial policies and debt issues faced by low-income and emerging economies, according to statements from both sides.

The US delegates raised their concerns about China’s industrial policy practices and overcapacity as well as the resulting impact on American workers and firms, according to a readout from the US Treasury Department.

“US officials reaffirmed that the US is not seeking to decouple the two economies and instead seeks a healthy economic relationship that provides a level playing field for American companies and workers,” the readout said.

The meetings concluded with both sides agreeing to meet again in April, it added.

China’s finance minister, Lan Fo’an, attended this week’s meeting and “had a brief exchange” with the US delegation, which also met with Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng while in Beijing, according to the statement from both sides.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen looked forward to a return visit to China this year at the appropriate time, the statement added.

‘Mistrust remains high’: why half of US firms have no plans to expand in China

The high-level dialogue followed a meeting of a separate Financial Working Group between the two countries held last month in Beijing.

Both working groups were launched in September last year and led by He and Yellen, aiming to facilitate progress on bilateral economic and financial policy matters.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington eased following a summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden in November in San Francisco.
While that meeting yielded modest results on military communication, drug controls and artificial intelligence, Sino-American relations have stayed clouded by growing economic disputes and a simmering tech war.
Former US president and presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has vowed to impose additional tariffs on China if elected again. Photo: Getty Images via AFP
The Biden administration has maintained tariffs on Chinese goods introduced during Donald Trump’s presidency – at an average of 19.3 per cent.
On Sunday, the former US president and front runner for this year’s Republican presidential nomination said in a Fox News interview he would impose additional tariffs on China if elected again, possibly in excess of 60 per cent.
The Biden administration has moved to restrict US investments in certain industries in China, including advanced computing chips and microelectronics, quantum technology and AI.

At the same time, it has been diversifying American supply chains away from China.

Last week, the US trade representative released its 2023 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy, saying “China continues to be the number one source of counterfeit products in the world”.

US deems more Chinese tech companies ‘military’ and a national security risk

It found that counterfeit and pirated goods from China, together with transshipped goods from the mainland to Hong Kong, accounted for 60 per cent of the value of counterfeit and pirated goods seized by US Customs and Border Protection in 2022, down from 75 per cent in 2021.

The newest edition of the notorious market list included long-time Chinese entries Taobao, Pinduoduo, Baidu Wangpan, DHGate and WeChat e-commerce ecosystems.

AliExpress, an e-commerce platform that connects China-based sellers with overseas buyers, was removed from the latest list after being included since 2021.

AliExpress and Taobao are units of Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post.
Amid a worsening property sector domestically and the West’s de-risking efforts, Beijing has yet to carve out a clear path for the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery. Insufficient demand in China, overcapacity in some industries and weak expectations have hampered growth.