US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arrived in Beijing Thursday ahead of high-stakes meetings with senior Chinese officials.
Yellen will meet with China’s Premier Li Qiang – who is seen as a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping – in Beijing Friday as the US seeks to “responsibly” manage its relationship with China.
The treasury secretary intends “to talk about the bilateral economic relationship, raise issues of concern, and discuss ways we can work together on global challenges” during her meeting with Li, a senior Treasury official told reporters traveling with Yellen.
On Friday, Yellen will also meet with her former counterpart, Liu He, in what the Treasury official said could be “seen as a meeting of old friends.”
“They were former counterparts. They’ve had a lot of conversations. I think it’ll be useful for both of them to hear how each other is seeing the global economy. I think he’s still also has an important role in Chinese policymaking here,” the official said Thursday.
Yellen will meet another former official – former People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan – at a dinner on Friday evening where “she’ll have the opportunity to exchange views on the economic outlook for the US, China, and the world,” the official said.
“We don’t expect specific policy breakthroughs in these meetings, but we do hope to have and expect to have frank and productive conversations that will help lay the groundwork for future communication, including at the sub-cabinet level,” the official explained.
Despite the low expectations of deliverables for Yellen’s trip, “I don’t think it’s fruitless. I will say that definitively,” the official told reporters.
Yellen’s trip follows President Joe Biden’s “directive after his meeting with President Xi last November to deepen communication between the US and the PRC on a range of issues, including on the global macroeconomy and financial developments,” the Treasury Department said in a statement on Sunday.
She is not expected to meet with the Chinese president, according to the official.
Yellen will be in China until July 9, according to the Department of the Treasury.
Along with other US officials, Yellen has long signaled the Biden administration’s desire to deepen communication and lower the temperature between the world’s top two economies.
In testimony before Congress in April, Yellen stressed the importance of maintaining ties with China and said that “decoupling would be a big mistake,” though she noted that alleged human rights abuses in China and questionable trade policies must be “addressed.” In June, she told a group of top American CEOs that it is critical for the US to work with China on specific and urgent global challenges.
This story has been updated with additional information.