U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen, China’s vice premier Liu He hold call

The flags of China, the United States, and the Chinese Communist Party are displayed in a flag booth in the Yiwu Wholesale Market in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, China on May 10, 2019.

Aly song | Reuters

BEIJING – China’s Vice Prime Minister Liu He and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke for the first time since President Joe Biden took office on Wednesday.

Both the US and China said the two leaders had spoken about economics and cooperation and “frankly” discussed worrying issues.

Yellen spoke of the Biden administration’s plans to “support a continued strong economic recovery and the importance of working together in areas that are in the US interest,” in a Treasury Department statement.

Liu and Yellen agreed that the two countries’ economic ties were “very important,” said Chinese state media, according to a CNBC translation. According to the report, the heads of state or government had an extensive discussion on the macroeconomic situation and multilateral cooperation.

Neither side provided further details about the conversation. The world’s two largest economies have remained close trading partners despite geopolitical tensions.

The US dollar has weakened as the US Federal Reserve keeps interest rates low to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. This is one of the reasons why the Chinese yuan has been the strongest against the greenback for about three years. That makes Chinese goods relatively more expensive for American buyers.

Many economists in China are also concerned about the spillover effects of massive US government spending, which is supposed to prop up growth.

Investors were betting on a recovery, which pushed up commodity prices. Rising prices have hit Chinese companies and prompted the Chinese central government to announce additional support and curb market speculation.

Chinese state media described the discussion between the two heads of state and government on Wednesday as one that embodies an attitude of “mutual respect,” a phrase Beijing often uses when calling for more favorable communication with the US

Last week, Liu spoke to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai for the first time since Biden took office.

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