Commerce secretary waves off Xi’s comments about China’s adversaries

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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Thursday pledged that the United States will continue to operate as normal, waving off Chinese President Xi Jinping’s warning to his country’s adversaries.

“We’ll do everything we can to make sure that our U.S. companies are treated fairly and are able to have access to the Chinese market,” she told CNBC in an interview on “Closing Bell.” “We will make sure that that is the case, that the Chinese play by the rules, protect [intellectual property], allow our markets, our companies to access that market.”

Raimondo’s comments come after a speech Xi made earlier on Thursday in which he said that China will not be “bullied, oppressed, or subjugated by the people of any country,”

“That’s obviously, you know, a lot of bluster and rhetoric. I think U.S. companies need to focus on doing their business,” she said, brushing off the Chinese president’s warning. “[The U.S. will] just play our game.”

Raimondo also said that the U.S. will work with allies to “stand up” to China when it comes to the country’s human rights abuses against the Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang.

“It’s going to take not just America but the allied countries that believe in democracy and have shared values to put enough pressure on them to stop these clear and unjust and inhumane actions,” she said.

The Biden administration last month moved to bar U.S. imports of a solar panel material produced by a Chinese-based firm in an effort to pressure the country over its human rights abuses.

“These actions demonstrate our commitment to imposing additional costs on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for engaging in cruel and inhumane forced labor practices and ensuring that Beijing plays by the rules of fair trade as part of the rules-based international order,” reads a White House fact sheet announcing the action.

Raimondo on Thursday also spoke about U.S. businesses that have shown recent support for China despite the issue of human rights, noting that she would handle the situation differently.

“Were I a CEO, I would be speaking out against human rights abuses, and I think we ought to all be able to agree that when we see human rights abuses, when we see racism, when we see this sort of behavior, we ought to speak up and speak out,” she said. “That’s leadership.” 

Tags China Gina Raimondo Gina Raimondo Human rights

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