When Gina Raimondo, the commerce secretary, visited China this week, she joined a long line of U.S. politicians who have come to the country to try to sway Chinese officials to open their market to foreign businesses and buy more American exports, in addition to other goals.
Ms. Raimondo left Shanghai on Wednesday night with no concrete commitments from China to treat foreign businesses more equitably or step up purchases of Boeing jets, Iowa corn or other products. In a farewell news conference, she said that hoping for such an outcome would have been unrealistic.
Instead, Ms. Raimondo said her biggest accomplishment was restoring lines of communication with China that would reduce the chance of miscalculation between the world’s two largest economies. She and Chinese officials agreed during the trip to create new dialogues between the countries, including a working group for commercial issues that American businesses had urged her to set up.
“The greatest thing accomplished on both sides is a commitment to communicate more,” Ms. Raimondo said on Wednesday.
She had also delivered what she described as a tough message. The Biden administration was willing to work to promote trade with China for many categories of goods. But the administration was not going to heed China’s biggest request: that the United States reduce stringent controls on exports of the most advanced semiconductors and the equipment to make them.
“We don’t negotiate on matters of national security,” Ms. Raimondo told reporters during her visit.
While she called the trip “an excellent start,” the big question is where it will lead. There is a long history of frustrating and unproductive economic dialogues between the United States and China, and there are not many reasons to believe this time will prove different.
Forums for discussion may have helped resolve some individual