While China’s troubles might give Raimondo greater leverage to pursue better market access for American companies, she is also likely to face calls from Beijing to help stabilize its faltering economy by easing some of the pressure Washington has recently applied.
“In terms of Raimondo’s trip, Beijing’s principle objective will be securing a reprieve, however temporary, from the onslaught of US export controls and other restrictions being levied on China’s economy,” said Craig Singleton, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a non-partisan think tank based in Washington.
Raimondo will travel to Beijing and Shanghai from Sunday through Wednesday, and discuss the US-China commercial relationship, challenges faced by US businesses and areas for potential cooperation, according to the Commerce Department.
China’s growth forecasts for this year are being marked down as exports and foreign investment slump, a real estate crisis deepens and worries about its financial health spread. For Beijing, Raimondo plays a key role in a number of areas that have been the source of mounting friction between the world’s top two economies.
Her department helps set America’s global trade policy — a sticking point in US-China relations since the Trump administration increased tariffs on a range of Chinese goods.
The secretary is responsible for supporting American businesses abroad, and also administers a series of US export controls that are aimed at cutting China off from advanced technologies that could be for military use.
Whether the Biden administration is willing to ease up on Beijing remains to be seen, but an announcement that coincided with news of Raimondo’s visit suggests Washington is trying at least to create the conditions for a useful conversation.