Washington seeking level playing field in China for US firms

Beijing, Jul 25 (EFE).- The United States wants to ensure that its firms operating in China can compete with local companies under equal conditions, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Sunday before traveling to the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin, one of the stops she will make on her official visit to the Asian giant.

“It was valuable to hear directly from members of the U.S. business community about the challenges they’re facing in China. The Biden-Harris Administration is pushing for a level playing field for American companies in China,” said Sherman on Sunday on her Twitter account.

This is one of the demands made by the prior Donald Trump administration, given that foreign firms wanting to operate in China usually confront restrictions – and, in fact, are prohibited from doing business in many sectors – and must compete with local companies that receive heavy state support, among other factors.

In another separate message, Sherman conveyed the United States’ “heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones in the severe floods in Henan province. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy.”

The central Chinese province has been hit with torrential rains in recent days, with resulting flooding there killing at least 63 people.

Sherman is scheduled to arrive in Tianjin on Sunday after visiting Japan, South Korea and Mongolia as part of her Asia tour – and there she will meet with China’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, Wang Yi, who is also tasked with overseeing US-China relations.

The selection of the coastal city as the site of that meeting was due – according to experts cited by state-run CGTN television – to Beijing’s efforts to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection in the Chinese capital.

“We have not welcomed foreign officials in Beijing in recent months due to the need to control the pandemic,” Da Wei, with the University of International Relations in Beijing, told the network.

US-China relations began to deteriorate in 2018, when Trump launched a trade war with Beijing that he later expanded into areas such as technology and diplomacy.

After Joe Biden took office as president, both countries have tried to redirect bilateral relations, albeit with only marginal success to date.

Last week, without going any farther, the two countries exchanged accusations of supporting and directing cyberattacks on the global level, and on Friday China announced sanctions against six Americans and one US institution in response to those levied on July 16 by Washington against seven Chinese officials for “undermining the autonomy” of Hong Kong.

The last time that top Chinese and US officials sat down face to face was back in April, when the US special envoy for climate change, John Kerry, met in Shanghai with his Chinese counterparts, the first high-level visit by a US official to China in 20 months. Earlier, officials of the two countries had met in Alaska in March.

At the Alaska meeting, both delegations participated in a tense encounter where they exchanged harsh accusations.

Along those lines, upon announcing Sherman’s visit to China last week, the US Department of State said that one of the aims of her trip was to manage the bilateral relationship in a responsible way, something that Beijing has stressed must be done by mutual agreement and not from “positions of strength.”

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