Yellen talks 'overcapacity' of Chinese goods in meetings with officials, business leaders

By Chris Benson
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday met with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng and other officials and business leaders on her first full day in Beijing. Pool Photo by Andy Wong/EPA-EFE
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday met with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng and other officials and business leaders on her first full day in Beijing. Pool Photo by Andy Wong/EPA-EFE

April 5 (UPI) -- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday began her first full day of meetings in China with officials and business leaders.

Yellen told Vice Premier He Lifeng how it "remains crucial" for China and the United States to "closely communicate on issues of concern such as overcapacity and national security-related economic actions."


"It is what the world and our citizens expect of us," Yellen said to China's head of the Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs, adding that collaboration on climate change and debt in other financial markets.

Yellen said her meetings with China's vice premier would be "frank and substantive conversations on our bilateral economic relationship."

"It is crucial that the two largest economies in the world seek progress on global challenges and closely communicate on areas of concern," she wrote on X.


"A healthy economic relationship must provide a level playing field for firms and workers in both countries," said Yellen, who will continue and then conclude Saturday her bilateral meetings with the vice premier.

Yellen also met with Guangdong Province Governor Wang Weizhong where she spoke of how "a healthy economic relationship can bring significant benefits for both our economies."

"I've also emphasized that building a healthy economic relationship requires a level playing field for American workers and firms, as well as open and direct communication on areas where we disagree," which she said includes China's "industrial overcapacity, which the United States and other countries are concerned can cause global spillovers," Yellen said in prepared remarks.

Later, Yellen took part in a roundtable discussion with international business leaders from the United States, Europe and Japan where the group touched on challenges and opportunities facing China's economy.

"I spoke with industry leaders to assess the challenges and opportunities foreign businesses face when operating in China and how government policies impact business operations," Yellen posted on X.

"Overcapacity isn't a new problem," Yellen said. "But it has intensified, and we're seeing emerging risks in new sectors," she said in Guangzhou at a gathering of the American Chamber of Commerce in China


Overcapacity -- a situation where a company or industry produces more than it can sell or use, such as solar panels and electric vehicles -- "poses challenges for Chinese firms and industries and can impact China's productivity and growth," Yellen added, noting how she believes "addressing overcapacity -- and more generally considering market-based reforms -- is in China's interest."

An official with a Washington, D.C. think tank told CNN how "tangible outcomes" of Yellen's trip could be "limited"

"Yellen's upcoming meetings merely extend the illusion of constructive engagement between two superpowers -- reinforcing, rather than resolving, China's contentious course," Craig Singleton, senior director of the China program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said.

China's primary focus for now, he said, "remains portraying itself as open for business and alleviating growing concerns about the government's to-date meager measures to tackle the country's looming economic downturn."

After meetings with He Lifeng on Saturday morning, Yellen will depart Guangzhou for the nation's capital Beijing in northeast China and arrive in the afternoon.

On Sunday, Yellen will participate in a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and later with Beijing Mayor Yin Yong followed by a meeting with leading Chinese economists.


That afternoon, Yellen has plans to meet with students and professors at Peking University followed by a meeting with Finance Minister Lan Fo'an.

On Monday, a meeting with China's former Vice Premier Liu He will come before Yellen's bilateral meeting with People's Bank of China Governor Pan Gongsheng. Later in the day, Yellen will deliver remarks at a press conference to discuss her trip.

Yellen is expected to depart Beijing for Washington, D.C. sometime Tuesday and will arrive later that evening local time.

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