Yellen vows to use ‘full array of tools’ to fight Chinese economic abuse

New York Times/Pool

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen said Tuesday that the Biden administration is prepared to use the “full array of tools” necessary to curb China’s economic malfeasance, including a major investment in the U.S. economy.

“We need to take on China’s abusive, unfair and illegal practices,” the former Federal Reserve chairwoman said during her Tuesday confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, calling China “our most important strategic competitor.”

Yellen criticized the Chinese government for actions that have been widely condemned by economists and the international community, including dumping cheap products in foreign markets, illegally subsidizing domestic companies, imposing trade barriers and stealing intellectual property.

Yellen did not specify what actions she or President-elect Joe Biden would take to curb China’s economic practices, nor did she mention whether the administration would keep in place President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.

She did say that the U.S. must work with allies to confront Beijing, differing from Trump’s preference for unilateral negotiations and aggressive penalties.

“I believe we should try to address unfair trade practices, and the best way to do that is to work with our allies rather than unilaterally,” Yellen said.

“And when the unfair practices have to do with things like stealing intellectual property and engaging in forced technology transfers, or subsidies that provide an unfair technological advantage, I think we should focus directly on those practices,” she added.

Yellen also emphasized making the U.S. economy more competitive by investing heavily in infrastructure, technological research and development and a larger workforce.

Biden said earlier this month that he will propose a massive infrastructure bill after Congress approves his economic relief and coronavirus response plan. But the president-elect and his incoming administration have offered little insight into how they plan to push back on China’s economic aggression.

Biden has declined to say whether he would keep, lift or adjust Trump’s tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese products. He also said little about what other actions he would take to curb China’s longstanding unfair practices.

Trump made confronting China on trade a primary focus of his economic agenda, but was largely unable to secure any significant changes to Beijing’s abusive conduct. The Chinese government agreed to purchase greater quantities of U.S. crops in a trade agreement with Trump, but only made superficial commitments to long-sought structural reforms.

Tags Biden cabinet Confirmation hearings Donald Trump Janet Yellen Joe Biden nomination hearing Phase One trade deal Sino-American relations US-China Trade war

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