PRC State Councilor Yang Jiechi visits Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a two day trip to the US. [Image: US Department of State]

Chinese State Councilor Visits US


Leading a six member delegation, People’s Republic of China (PRC) State Councilor Yang Jiechi visited the US late in February. Jiechi spoke with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Vice President Mike Pence, and as stated in a press briefing, Jiechi “had an opportunity to say hi to the President before he left.”

Tillerson and Jiechi discussed the future of Sino-US economic relations and other areas of mutual concern. They agreed on the need to further develop ties between the two countries. This follows a conversation between Trump and President Xi Jinping via telephone on February 9, in which the two agreed on the need to improve Sino-US relations.

The visit marked the first US visit of a PRC official since the inauguration of Donald Trump. This was the second face-to-face meeting between senior China and US officials, the first having been between Tillerson and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the G20 talks in Bonn, Germany in early February. Jiechi recently spoke with Tillerson in a phone conversation in which they discussed North Korea, economics, trade, terrorism, and transnational crime.

China is the US’s third largest export market with exports amounting to $115 billion in 2016, an increase of 11% from 2011. Almost 13% of these exports were civilian aircraft, equipment, and parts; 12% were soybeans; and 8% were passenger cars. China is the largest source of US imports, which amounted to $463 billion in 2016; an increase of 16% since 2011. Major imports include cell phones and other household goods such as computers, telecommunication equipment, and computer accessories.

In 2014, US foreign direct investment (FDI) in China reached $65.8 billion, an increase of 9.8% from the previous year. The major sources of US FDI in China were financial institutions, manufacturing, and wholesale trade. In the same year, Chinese FDI totaled $9.5 billion, an increase of 12% from the previous year. China’s FDI in the US was primarily financial institutions, information services, and manufacturing.

Tara Duane is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at the University of Western Australia