U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met with her Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao in Washington on Thursday for “candid and substantive discussions on issues relating to the U.S.-China commercial relationship, including the overall environment in both countries for trade and investment and areas for potential cooperation.”
The Commerce Department’s account of the meeting said Raimondo “raised concerns about the recent spate of PRC [People’s Republic of China] actions taken against U.S. companies operating in the PRC.”
This was a reference to the Chinese targeting of a string of foreign companies with restrictions, sanctions, and raids over the past few months. Last week, China announced Micron Technology Inc. failed a nebulous “security audit” and banned the U.S. company’s chips from sensitive computer systems.
Before that, China inexplicably raided consulting firms Bain & Co. and Capvision, plus a firm called the Mintz Group that specializes in due diligence corporate audits. Some analysts saw these raids as retaliation for U.S. actions that angered China, while others thought China was growing nervous about foreign companies gaining access to its economic data.
The far-left New York Times (NYT) newspaper quoted Chinese state media reports that portrayed the Capvision raid as a stern warning for the inquisitive company to keep its nose out of the Chinese Communist Party’s business:
The police told Jiangsu Television, a state broadcaster, that Capvision had frequently contacted “secret-related personnel” in the Chinese Communist Party as well as officials in fields such as defense and science. The authorities accused Capvision of hiring consulting experts “with high remuneration” to “illegally obtain various types of sensitive data,” which they said posed a “major risk and hidden peril to China’s national security.”
The CCTV report said the inquiry resulted in the arrest of at least one employee of a state-owned company who was sentenced to six years in prison for providing “state secrets and intelligence” to Capvision’s foreign clients.
The Financial Times (FT) speculated in April that China might be testing the waters for taking the assets and employees of foreign companies hostage, for use as leverage in tense negotiations. The Chinese government was able to rescue Huawei CEO and top Communist Party member Meng Wanzhou from arrest in Canada in 2021 by taking Canadians hostage.
Coverage of the Raimondo-Wang meeting in China’s state-run Global Times made no mention of the U.S. Commerce Secretary’s concerns, instead quoting the Biden White House’s assurances that China’s ban on Micron chips “won’t torpedo larger efforts to get U.S.-China relations into a better position.”
The Global Times barely mentioned Raimondo at all, vaguely describing her as eager to mend fences with China – a goal the Chinese paper said the Biden administration would have to work harder to achieve.
The Chinese Communist editors had a few ideas for concessions Biden could offer, such as dropping America’s “hysterical mindset” against China and dropping investigations into China’s abuse of the Uyghur Muslims.
The Global Times suggested recent personnel changes at the State Department, such as the retirement of Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, could mean members of the Biden administration are bailing out over disagreements on China policy – supposedly because they realize the futility of trying to “contain” mighty China, or impose Western ideas of human rights upon it.
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