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Yellen Decouples from Decoupling

April 21, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wants to win the “It wasn’t me” game. After having exposed the backfiring of financial sanctions against Russia—a decision she is co-responsible for—she gave a speech yesterday at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies which is seen as a “No” to decoupling from China. She read the text of her speech, which is posted in full on the U.S. Treasury website; the video is available on the Treasury YouTube channel.

In her opening section, she explained: “The United States proceeds with confidence in its long-term economic strength. We remain the largest and most dynamic economy in the world. We also remain firm in our conviction to defend our values and national security. Within that context, we seek a constructive and fair economic relationship with China. Both countries need to be able to frankly discuss difficult issues. And we should work together, when possible, for the benefit of our countries and the world.

“Our economic approach to China has three principal objectives.

“First, we will secure our national security interests and those of our allies and partners, and we will protect human rights. We will clearly communicate to the P.R.C. our concerns about its behavior. And we will not hesitate to defend our vital interests. Even as our targeted actions may have economic impacts, they are motivated solely by our concerns about our security and values. Our goal is not to use these tools to gain competitive economic advantage.

“Second, we seek a healthy economic relationship with China: one that fosters growth and innovation in both countries. A growing China that plays by international rules is good for the United States and the world. Both countries can benefit from healthy competition in the economic sphere. But healthy economic competition—where both sides benefit—is only sustainable if that competition is fair. We will continue to partner with our allies to respond to China’s unfair economic practices. And we will continue to make critical investments at home—while engaging with the world to advance our vision for an open, fair, and rules-based global economic order.

“Third, we seek cooperation on the urgent global challenges of our day. Since last year’s meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi, both countries have agreed to enhance communication around the macroeconomy and cooperation on issues like climate and debt distress. But more needs to be done. We call on China to follow through on its promise to work with us on these issues—not as a favor to us, but out of our joint duty and obligation to the world. Tackling these issues together will also advance the national interests of both of our countries.”

Media also quoted her, including Times of India: “Progress on these issues requires constructive engagement between the world’s two largest economies. Yet our relationship is clearly at a tense moment. So today, I would like to discuss our economic relationship with China. My goal is to be clear and honest: to cut through the noise and speak to this essential relationship based on sober realities.”

And in Financial Times: “As I’ve said, the United States will assert ourselves when our vital interests are at stake. But we do not seek to ‘decouple’ our economy from China’s. A full separation of our economies would be disastrous for both countries. It would be destabilizing for the rest of the world.”

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