Meeting in Zurich to warm economic relations between Beijing and Washington

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He stressed on Wednesday during a meeting in Switzerland the importance and urgent need for close communication between Washington and Beijing, which attempt to warm up their economic relations.

“Faced with a complicated global economic outlook, there is an urgent need for the world’s two largest economies to communicate closely on global macroeconomic and financial conditions and exchange views on how we are responding to different challenges,” declared Janet Yellen in front of journalists, in Zurich.

Referring to a meeting between American Presidents Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November in Bali, the American Minister – who was stopping over in Zurich before traveling to several African countries – underlined the responsibility that the United States has and China to show that they can “manage their differences”.

“We have points of disagreement,” admitted the American minister, who was meeting her Chinese counterpart in person for the first time, after three remote meetings.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during a meeting with Chinese Vice Prime Minister Liu He on January 18, 2023 in Zurich, Switzerland (AFP – SEBASTIEN BOZON)

But “we must not let misunderstandings, especially those stemming from a lack of communication, unnecessarily deteriorate our bilateral economic and financial relations”, added Janet Yellen.

Liu He, who also mentioned the meeting between the US and Chinese presidents on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Bali, said he wanted to ensure “serious communication” and “coordination on macroeconomic affairs, climate change and other issues. of mutual interest”.

“Right now, it seems that we are facing problems,” replied the Chinese vice-president to Janet Yellen, through an interpreter in front of the press before the meeting.

“But as President Xi said, we all have one planet and there are always more solutions than problems,” he continued.

– “Maintain the dialogue” –

“In our eyes, the China-US relationship is highly significant,” said Liu He, while calling “to manage our differences appropriately”.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He during a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on January 18, 2023 in Zurich, Switzerland (AFP - SEBASTIEN BOZON)
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He during a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on January 18, 2023 in Zurich, Switzerland (AFP – SEBASTIEN BOZON)

“However circumstances change, we must always maintain the dialogue,” he said.

Over the past three years, the rivalry between the world’s two largest economies has intensified as China has grown in power and confidence, sparking growing fears in the United States.

Tensions came to a head last August, after then-Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, an island that Beijing considers to be part of its territory. Beijing then launched military maneuvers on an unprecedented scale around the island.

In a sign that the two great powers are trying to warm up their relations, a US official confirmed on Tuesday that the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, will visit China on February 5 and 6 to try to ease the high tensions between the two country.

Antony Blinken’s trip will be the first at this level since that of his Republican predecessor Mike Pompeo in October 2018. It was announced on the sidelines of the meeting between the American and Chinese presidents in Bali, during which the two leaders had called for calm, but the dates had not been officially communicated at that time.

Janet Yellen was stopping in Zurich before a visit to Senegal, Zambia and South Africa to strengthen economic ties between these countries and the United States, while China has gained power on the African continent.

This Swiss stopover was intended to allow the American minister and her Chinese counterpart to discuss economic issues at a time when many political leaders are in Switzerland, in Davos, for the World Economic Forum.

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