MODERATOR: Greetings from the U.S. Department of State’s Asia-Pacific Media Hub. I would like to welcome journalists to today’s on-the-record briefing with Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. Secretary Raimondo will discuss her visit to Beijing and Shanghai where she engaged in discussions on issues related to the U.S.-China commercial relationship, challenges faced by U.S. businesses, and areas for potential cooperation.
With that, let’s get started. Secretary Raimondo, I’ll turn it over to you for your opening remarks.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Thank you, Catherine. Thank you, everybody, for being here. I am here in Shanghai after having had three productive days in China. I met with U.S. business leaders who haven’t seen a Commerce secretary on the ground in five years. I met with leaders of U.S. educational institutions and students from the U.S. and China and I was able to visit iconic American companies like Boeing and Disney, and, of course, visited with my counterparts from the PRC Government.
In these meetings, we had candid, constructive conversations. I was able to explain our policies and our approach to China, and I heard from my Chinese counterparts. The meetings were candid, weren’t just reading talking points. I didn’t pull any punches. I was able to explain clearly that we will protect what we must and promote what we can. That means national security is non-negotiable, but despite that, there is plenty of business we can do.
There are a thousand Starbucks in Shanghai. I visited today Disney – Disney, which is bringing America’s high standards of accessibility and sustainability to the Chinese market, and I visited New York University’s campus and saw the benefits of American students and Chinese students studying together.
This is all business that we should be encouraging, but promotion also means advocating for U.S. businesses and workers when the playing field is unfair. I raised issues like subsidies, raids on U.S. firms, and intellectual property theft. Businesses need a predictable regulatory environment. We are not returning to the days when we had dialogue for dialogue’s sake, but shutting down communication and decoupling services is neither in our economic or national security goals. We created new channels of communication that will allow us to raise and ideally resolve issues that undermine U.S. workers and businesses. We announced the 14th China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit and we agreed that technical experts from both sides would convene to strengthen protections for trade secrets.
So overall, as I just said, this trip is an excellent start, but I’m very clear-eyed about the challenges ahead. In the next few months, we have to get to work to see whether we can make progress on the issues raised.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Raimondo. We’ll now turn to the question-and-answer portion of today’s briefing.
Our first question goes to Andrea Mitchell of NBC based in Washington, D.C. Andrea, you should be able to unmute yourself now.
Andrea, can you unmute yourself?
QUESTION: Good morning, Secretary Raimondo, and thanks for doing this. Could you tell us something more about the new channels of communications and what means you think they will be to protect trade secrets, and whether you’ve got a lot of pushback from your interlocutors, and finally, whether you did mention that your own emails had been hacked? Thank you so much.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Hi, Andrea. Good morning and thank you for calling in. I did mention that my own emails had been hacked and I mentioned that as an example of an action that erodes trust at a time that we are trying to stabilize the relationship and increase channels of communication. The working group that we launched is a commercial issues working group and this, I think, is among one of the most significant.
Prior to my visit here, I spoke with over a hundred U.S. company CEOs and senior leaders and they all told me – I asked them what should I try to accomplish and they said the single most important thing to accomplish was to open a line of communication so we can directly talk about an unlevel playing field and an unpredictable regulatory environment here in China.
So I am hopeful that with this regular communication we can be – have a direct dialogue. And I don’t expect it’ll solve everything overnight, Andrea, but I do know that there’s been almost no, like, consistent communication on commercial issues. And so I have hope that just more communication and direct communication will lead to transparency but also less – lower probability of miscalculation, mis-assessment, and increased risk.
I didn’t – and the same is true for the trade secrets. We agreed to get our experts together to talk about trade secrets to figure out how to protect trade secrets and IP. I did not receive any pushback, and the same for the export control enforcement information exchange. Another thing: We’re not going to compromise. That’s not a working group on export controls to seek concessions, but it is an opportunity to share information and increase transparency, and I didn’t receive pushback on any of those.
MODERATOR: Our next question goes to Du Zhihang from Caixin Media. You should be able to unmute yourself now.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. I have a question about the communication mechanism on export control that was just established. Did you communicate about the incoming control which was set to be on AI chips to China? Is the mechanism just about getting each other less angry when the rules are already out or it’s more about prepping each other about the future export control policies? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Neither, actually. We didn’t discuss any specific controls, and I was very clear that for all of our controls, including the ones that you referenced, we’re not interested to change them and we’re not interested to negotiate them. This was just – this is an information exchange so that we could share more information about our enforcement policies, export control enforcement policies; for example, end-use checks, our expectations for how the United States needs to be able to conduct end-use checks of Chinese businesses.
MODERATOR: Okay. Our next question was submitted in advance from Ralph Jennings of the South China Morning Post based in Hong Kong, who asks: “What’s the next step in normalizing China-U.S. trade relations?” And “Where were the biggest achievements and setbacks this week in China for the U.S. side?”
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: The biggest achievement – there were no setbacks. There were no setbacks. It was for – as I say, three days of productive meetings. And the biggest achievement was just to start regular communication and to have – again, it’s hard to – it’s really important to remember the context here. This is the first time in more than five years that a U.S. Commerce secretary has even – has come to China to have discussions. So the achievement was to have face-to-face discussions and to put on the table some of the biggest challenges in our trade and investment and our commercial relationship. And that was an achievement. It’s a big step forward. You can’t solve any problems without first communicating. And now we have to launch these different mechanisms, then see what problems we might be able to solve.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Raimondo. Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you for your questions and thank you so much, the Secretary, for joining us. We will provide a transcript of this briefing to participating journalists as soon as it’s available, and we’d love to receive your feedback. You can contact us anytime at AsiaPacMedia@state.gov. Thanks again for your participation and we hope you can join us for another briefing soon.
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