Blinken Outlines U.S. Policy Toward China in Long-Awaited Speech

On May 26, Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a highly-anticipated address outlining the Biden administration’s policy toward China. In the remarks, Secretary Blinken appealed to U.S. industry to take national security interests into account when assessing trade and investment decisions. “We believe, and we expect the business community to understand, that the price of admission to China’s market must not be the sacrifice of our core values, or long-term competitive and technological advantages,” Blinken said.

At the same time, the U.S. will continue to push back against China’s non-market economic policies and strengthen alliances with like-minded partners to address these concerns. Additionally, Secretary Blinken emphasized that while the administration has set the objective of reducing U.S. dependence on China for many critical products, the U.S. does not intend to pursue full decoupling. Watch the speech and read the remarks here.

On the related issue of the U.S. Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods, USTR General Counsel Greta Peisch joined a Georgetown Law Center event earlier this week in which she suggested that a Section 301 tariff exclusion process could occur during (or before the end of) the agency’s statutory review of the Trump-era duties. While the review is expected to last several months, the Biden administration is facing increased pressure to take steps to provide quick relief for families and businesses hit hard by inflation.

Congress is also wrestling with the Section 301 tariff relief issue. On May 25, A bipartisan group of senators led by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) sent a letter to President Biden urging the administration to leave Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods in place. The senators argue that tariffs are not a driver of today’s inflation and state that rolling back tariffs would only “undermine the U.S. position in negotiations, expose many U.S. companies and workers to a sudden flood of imports, and signal to China that waiting out the U.S. is preferable to changing their nonmarket behavior.” The letter encourages the use of enforcement tools under the Phase One Agreement to “make clear to China that dialogue leads to commitments—and failure to adhere to these commitments are followed by robust enforcement.”

The letter is mute on the expired status of the Phase One Agreement it invokes, the questionable utility of the tariffs as leverage (given that they are taxes paid by Americans and do not appear to discomfit the Chinese government), and the inert state of U.S.-China negotiations where any such leverage — if it could be found — might be exercised.

For more information contact:

Alexandra Pasternak Jackson


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