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US-China talks a ‘step forward’ in relations, says Janet Yellen

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said her visit to Beijing has marked a “step forward” in efforts to stabilise relations between the two countries.

Ms Yellen spoke at the end of a four-day trip, during which talks were held over issues including climate change.

She described the talks as “direct, substantive and productive” and said both sides had learned more about each other.

However, she admitted the US and China still had “significant disagreements”.

“No one visit will solve our challenges overnight,” she said.

“But this trip will help build a resilient and productive channel of communication with China’s new economic team.”

The US-China relationship has deteriorated in recent years. Issues dividing the countries include human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea and Beijing’s growing domination of a host of industries.

Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, who was among those to meet with Ms Yellen, said on Saturday he regretted “unexpected incidents” – such as the row over a spy balloon – had hurt ties with the United States.

Ms Yellen stressed the need for better communication in order to try and overcome these issues, adding that US President Joe Biden did “not see the relationship between the US and China through the frame of great power conflict.

“We believe that the world is big enough for both of our countries to thrive.”

On the issue of economic competition, Ms Yellen said the US sought a “dynamic and healthy global economy that is open, free and fair, not one that is fragmented or forces countries to take sides”.

She said any future curbs to business with China would be implemented “in a transparent way” and focus on sectors where the US had “specific national security concerns”.

Earlier in the visit, Ms Yellen criticised Beijing’s curbs against US firms, including the tightening of controls over exports of two materials crucial to producing computer chips.

The move follows Washington’s efforts in the past year to curb Chinese access to some advanced computer chips.

Ms Yellen said the US would fight back against China’s “unfair economic practices”.

In response, China’s finance ministry said “the nature of China-US economic and trade relations is mutually beneficial and win-win” and that there was no winner in a trade war.

On climate change, Ms Yellen urged Beijing to work with the US and support institutions like the Green Climate Fund, which was set up to help developing nations adapt to climate change and lessen its effects.

The Treasury Secretary was the second senior Washington official to visit Beijing in the last two months.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing in June – the highest-ranking Washington official to visit the Chinese capital in almost half a decade.

His sentiments at the end of his trip echoed Ms Yellen’s. He said that while there were still major issues between the two countries, he hoped they would have “better communications, better engagement going forward.”

However, the next day President Joe Biden referred to Mr Xi as a “dictator” – triggering outrage from Beijing.

Despite the political tensions, trade between the two countries grew in 2022 for the third year in a row.

According to official figures, China exported more than $536bn (£422.3bn) worth of goods to the US last year, while $154bn of goods went in the other direction.

Source: BBC