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US and China Agree to Further Talks, to Boost Climate Finance

Yellen and her counterpart Liu He agreed to further talks on macroeconomic and financial issues, while enhancing cooperation on climate finance on a bilateral and multilateral basis

China's Liu He, mid-left, and Janet Yellen are seen during their talks in Zurich on Wednesday.
China's Liu He, mid-left, and Janet Yellen are seen during their talks in Zurich on Wednesday. Reuters photo.


The US and China’s top financial officials met for nearly three hours of talks in Zurich on Wednesday described later as “candid, substantive and constructive”.

A Treasury statement said Secretary Janet Yellen’s meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He – the first in person meeting since she became Secretary – saw the pair agree to enhance communication on macroeconomic and financial issues.

And both sides agreed to enhance cooperation on climate finance on a bilateral and multilateral basis, such as within the United Nations, Group of 20 economies and APEC.

“While we have areas of disagreement, and we will convey them directly, we should not allow misunderstandings, particularly those stemming from a lack of communication, to unnecessarily worsen our bilateral economic and financial relationship,” Yellen said at the start of the meeting.

Liu said both countries need “serious communication” and coordination on issues including climate change and the economy, and that he was ready for an in-depth exchange.

“We do believe that we have to always bear in mind the bigger picture, try to manage our differences appropriately and seek common ground,” Liu said, speaking through an interpreter. “In this way, hopefully we can work together to maintain the overall stability of Chinese-US relations.”

The talks followed a pledge by US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping to increase communication when they met in Indonesia in November.


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Sovereign debt, food security, energy

“Secretary Yellen also raised issues of concern in a frank exchange of views,” it added. “She looks forward to travelling to China and to welcoming her counterparts to the United States in the near future.”

A senior Treasury official said Yellen and Liu agreed that both countries could take steps to avert recessions in their own economies, and the two delegations had a productive discussion about sovereign debt issues, food security and energy.

On economic prospects, Chinese officials were aware of financial risks posed by the property sector but were optimistic about resuming closer to normal growth, the official said.


China concern over US trade, tech policies

The China side expressed concern over US economic, trade and technological policies towards China and its hope that the US will pay attention to how such policies were affecting both countries, China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

“China welcomes Yellen to visit China at an appropriate time this year. Both countries agreed that their economic and trade teams will continue to maintain communications and exchanges at all levels,” it said.

Washington in October imposed export controls on China to slow Beijing’s technological and military advances, including measures to curb China’s access to US chipmaking tools and cut it off from certain chips made anywhere in the world with American equipment.



Liu urges greater cooperation

On Tuesday, Liu, a confidant of Xi, urged global leaders gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum to abandon what he called a “Cold War mentality” and expand international cooperation on issues such as climate change.

Yellen and other top US officials say the US economy should be able to skip a recession in 2023, but acknowledge slower growth is likely.

China’s economic growth looks set to rebound from mid-2023 following relaxed Covid curbs after slumping to one of its worst levels in nearly half a century.

The IMF has warned against decoupling the global economy into two competing blocs, saying it could reduce global economic output by up to 7%, and even more in vulnerable countries.

Yellen’s meeting with Liu came before a three-country visit to Africa, where she will push to expand US trade and business ties with the continent, which China has long dominated.

She is also expected to repeat her criticism of Beijing – now the world’s largest creditor – for not moving more quickly to provide debt relief, as well as its use of forced labour in China’s Xinjiang region and “non-market” economic practices.

Yellen has met virtually three times with Liu since taking office, and met in Bali, Indonesia, with Chinese central bank governor Yi Gang. Liu will step down this year as part of an overhaul of China’s economic leadership disclosed in September.

In December, Yellen told reporters she was also open to visiting China and looked forward to more “intense interactions” with Chinese officials.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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