President-elect Joe Biden’s picks to lead economic and foreign policy signalled on Tuesday that there would be no letup in Washington’s efforts to combat China’s trade abuses.
The comments from the incoming administration reflect an unusual area of common ground with outgoing President Donald Trump, who over the past four years unleashed an aggressive and costly trade war that imposed billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on Chinese goods.
Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick for Treasury secretary, and Antony Blinken, who was tapped to lead the State Department, nonetheless emphasized areas of difference, particularly the incoming administration’s commitments to working with US allies and promoting investments to make American firms and workers more competitive against Beijing.
Responding to questions from the Senate Finance Committee at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Yellen called China “our most important strategic competitor.” She accused Beijing of “undercutting American companies” by offering illegal subsidies, dumping products at below-market prices, stealing intellectual property and erecting barriers to US exports.
“We need to take on China’s abusive unfair and illegal practices,” she said, adding “we’re prepared to use the full array of tools” to address those issues.
Speaking the day before Biden is due to take office, she also vowed to be watchful of the national security implications of China’s theft of “trade secrets” and “illegal efforts to acquire critical technology.”