Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet with her Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, in Switzerland on Wednesday to discuss economic developments between the two nations.
The Zurich talks will be a follow-up to the November meeting between President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. The two world leaders agreed to empower key senior officials to maintain communication.
Strains between the world’s two leading economies have been growing despite their trade ties. The Biden administration has blocked the sale of advanced computer chips to China and is considering a ban on investment in some Chinese tech companies, possibly undermining a key economic goal that Xi set for his country. Statements by the Democratic president that the U.S. will defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion have increased tensions.
The meeting comes ahead of Yellen’s travel to Senegal, Zambia and South Africa this week in what will be the first in a string of visits by Biden administration officials to sub-Saharan Africa during the year.
Africa is crucial to the global economy due to its rapidly growing population and significant natural resources. China’s deepening economic entrenchment in African nations, surpassing the U.S. in trade with the continent to become one of the world’s largest creditors, is also a motivator for the U.S. to deepen ties with African nations.
Yellen has spoken at length publicly about China’s financing practices on the continent, calling them “economic practices that have disadvantaged all of us.”
She has also called on China explicitly to end its relationship with Russia as the Kremlin continues its invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. and its European and Asian allies have imposed sanctions and an oil price cap on Russia in retaliation for the war, putting China in a difficult spot as it had promised a “no limits” friendship with Russia before the invasion began.
It will be Yellen’s first in-person meeting with Liu since taking office and follows three virtual meetings between them.