Biden lifts trade restrictions on Chinese companies

August 23, 2023
Matthew Boose

The Biden administration lifted trade restrictions on Chinese companies ahead of a high-profile visit to Beijing from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

The Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) said it was removing 33 firms, including 27 Chinese companies, from its "unverified list" because the companies had proven they could be trusted to handle U.S. exports.

“Our removal of 33 parties demonstrates the concrete benefit companies receive when they or a host government cooperates with BIS to complete a successful end-use check," Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod said.

China restrictions lifted

Raimondo will visit Beijing and Shanghai between August 27 and August 30 to discuss cooperation between the world's two biggest economies.

"While in the PRC, Secretary Raimondo looks forward to constructive discussions on issues relating to the U.S.- China commercial relationship, challenges faced by U.S. businesses, and areas for potential cooperation," the Commerce Department said in a statement.

Raimondo's trip was announced on the same day that the Commerce Department lifted the export controls - a move that was cheered by China's Ministry of Commerce, which called it a welcome step toward a "normal" policy.

“This is conducive to the normal trade between Chinese and American companies and is in line with the common interests of both parties,” ministry said in a statement. “It is entirely possible to find a solution that benefits companies on both sides.”

Biden's thaw

The lifting of restrictions received positive press in Chinese propaganda sources like the Global Times, which called it a "positive signal" for cooperation between the two countries.

Biden is pursuing a broad diplomatic effort to establish friendlier relations with China, which froze over in February following the downing of a Chinese spy balloon.

Raimondo is the latest Biden Cabinet official scheduled to visit Beijing, following trips this summer from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, State Secretary Tony Blinken and climate envoy John Kerry.

Biden's attempt at conciliation is a stark reversal from the course charted by his predecessor, President Trump - the first modern American president to take the U.S. trade imbalance with China seriously. Trump, a presidential candidate in 2024, is planning to double down on tariffs if elected.

Republicans have blasted Biden's diplomatic outreach as desperate and one-sided - accusations that are likely to escalate as Biden continues to send overtures to Beijing.

Raimondo's visit comes even after Chinese hackers breached Raimondo's e-mails last month.

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