Yellen affirms US commitment to safeguard 'national security' amid China's espionage law

In a recent diplomatic visit to Beijing, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed her commitment to protecting America's national security interests in light of China's new counterespionage law and export controls on minerals crucial to the tech industry. The counterespionage law, which came into effect on July 1, has raised concerns among experts who believe it expands the Chinese government's investigatory powers and puts American businesspeople at greater risk of office raids, phone searches, and exit bans. Yellen discussed these concerns during her meetings with Chinese officials, including Vice Premier He Lifeng.

During an interview with CBS host Margaret Brennan, Yellen emphasized the importance of maintaining healthy economic relations with China and highlighted the opportunities American businesses can benefit from in the Chinese market. Brennan also questioned Yellen about President Biden's executive order that could impose restrictions on U.S. exports of computer chips related to artificial technology and cloud computing. Yellen clarified that national security is a non-negotiable priority and that actions taken to protect it may affect the Chinese economy. However, she assured that these actions would be transparent, narrowly targeted, and well-explained.

Yellen acknowledged that China also protects its own national security through export controls and other similar measures, including controls on outbound investment. She mentioned that President Biden is considering controls on outbound investment in specific high-tech areas, but these measures would be narrowly targeted and would not significantly impact the investment climate between the two countries.

Yellen expressed concerns about China's export controls on critical materials for computer chips, suggesting that they could be seen as retaliatory actions. She stressed that no final decision had been made by the Biden administration regarding an executive order on American investment in China. Yellen's overall objective was to avoid unintended escalatory actions that could harm the economic relationship between the two countries.

In summary, Secretary Yellen's visit to Beijing highlighted the importance of protecting national security while maintaining economic relations with China. She raised concerns about China's counterespionage law and export controls, emphasizing the need for transparency and narrowly targeted actions. Yellen also acknowledged China's measures to protect its own national security and clarified that the Biden administration's potential controls on outbound investment would be carefully considered.


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