On Wednesday, the United States Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, and her Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, are scheduled to meet in Switzerland to discuss recent economic developments between the two countries.
The Zurich discussions will be a follow-up to President Joe Biden’s meeting with China’s Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit held in Bali, Indonesia. The two global leaders agreed to provide key senior officials the authority to continue communication.
Despite their trade ties, tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have grown. The Biden administration has prohibited the sale of sophisticated computer chips to China and is mulling a restriction on investment in some Chinese technology firms, potentially undercutting a key economic goal established by Xi for his country. The Democratic president’s statements that the U.S. will support Taiwan against a Chinese invasion have heightened tensions.
This discussion takes place in preparation for Yellen’s trip to Senegal, Zambia, and South Africa later this week. Yellen’s trip will be the first in a series of trips by Biden administration officials to countries in sub-Saharan Africa this year.
Because of its fast rising population and enormous natural resources, Africa is critical to the global economy. China’s expanding economic entrenchment in African states, which has seen it surpass the United States in trade with the continent to become one of the world’s top debtors, is also motivating the United States to strengthen connections with African nations.
Yellen has talked publicly at length regarding China’s funding policies on the continent, describing them as “economic activities that have hurt all of us.”
She has also clearly urged China to sever ties with Russia as the Kremlin pursues its invasion of Ukraine. In reaction for the conflict, the United States and its Asian and European allies have imposed sanctions and an oil price limits on Russia, placing China in a difficult position given that it had vowed a “no boundaries” relationship with Russia before the invasion began.
It will be Yellen’s first face-to-face meeting with Liu since assuming office, following three virtual sessions.