US Treasury’s Yellen, Chinese vice premier He set to meet amid pre-APEC friction

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen opens two days of meetings with Chinese vice Premier He Lifeng on Thursday in a bid to curb the economic fallout from a hard rapport by keeping open the lines of communications on topics from national safety to climate transformation. U.S. Treasury officials have sought to downplay anticipations for any breakthroughs from the meetings in San Francisco, where the U.S. President Joe Biden next week will host a summit of Asia Pacific Econoimc Cooperation country leaders, which includes Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Biden and Xi are anticipated to steal APEC’s spotlight with a planned meeting on the summit sidelines. Yellen’s second face-to-face meeting with He since she visited Beijing in July is among a series of cabinet-level engagements aimed in part at saving the two governers’ meeting. Yellen intends to reiterate her view that the U.S. and China cannot decouple and instead must pursue a “impactful competition” based on a level playing field and crystal clear conversations about their thoughts related to national safety restrictions.

She said previous week that the Biden administration would not consider a path of separation that would lead to Asian economies to make a choice between China and the U.S. Her San Francisco meetings will mark the first in-person gatherings of fresh U.S.-China economic and financial forums which involves staff-level officials from both sides after the bodies were brought in October.

But in declaring the consultations, Yellen said this would not be a recreation of the Obama-era Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a broad U.S.-China forum that was so much criticized for its ineffectiveness. A U.S. Treasury official said that a prominent aim for the meeting was strengthening communications with China, gaining a better understanding of the relationship, and avoiding any misunderstandings about U.S. policy decisions.