The Biden administration is pursuing friendlier business ties with China, hoping the strategy will boost the political relationship between the two competing nations.
“It’s just an economic fact,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.
“I actually think robust commercial engagement will help to mitigate any potential tensions.”
Raimondo said that while the Chinese government may craft its trade policies to disadvantage American companies, the U.S. must continue trading with China.
She explained that the Chinese market is too large for the U.S. to avoid.
The commerce secretary told the WSJ that her department would not favor U.S. semiconductor companies for multi-billion-dollar grants to build factories on American soil.
A bill that would appropriate $52 billion to the federal government for the grants is currently making its way through Congress.
The global semiconductor chip shortage has had reverberations across economic sectors, causing supply chain shortfalls and higher prices for cars, appliances and other goods.
Companies in Taiwan, South Korea and China make up 87 percent of semiconductor contract manufacturers globally, according to CNBC.
In March, the Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department in an 84-15 vote.
Since then, she has spearheaded a wide-ranging review of trade policies and tariffs implemented by the Trump administration.
“Let me say those tariffs have been effective. The data show that those tariffs have been effective,” Raimondo said shortly after she was confirmed.
“And I think what President Biden has said is we’re going to have a whole of government review of all of these policies, and decide what it makes sense to maintain.”
Raimondo characterized Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei as a national security threat and said she would continue to block the company’s efforts to expand its global 5G network, according to the WSJ.
However, experts criticized Raimondo’s openness to friendlier relations with China, which has become increasingly antagonistic toward the U.S. The Department of Justice has for years accused the Chinese of intellectual property theft, according to the National Law Review.
“The Commerce Department hasn’t adjusted to a world where China is a serious rival to the U.S. and is heading to a slow-motion clash with Congress,” American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Derek Scissors said, according to the WSJ.
“Raimondo thinks her job is to paper over the decoupling and separation [between the U.S. and China] and try to suggest there is a positive path forward,” Bill Reinsch, a former Department of Commerce official who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.
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