“There is an important distinction between decoupling, on the one hand, and, on the other, diversifying critical supply chains or taking targeted national security actions,” she said.
The Biden administration maintains that the recent limits it has placed on high-tech exports to China, particularly of the most advanced semiconductors, are narrowly focused on US military security. The administration tried to characterize its actions as building a high fence around only a small yard of technologies.
But even after Ms. Yellen’s visit, many in China are skeptical. Since the United States presents policies as “only for national security, then the question is how big is the yard of national security,” said Wu Xinbo, dean of international studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.
She proposed no new policies. Neither does China.
Evidently missing from a news conference that Mrs. Yellen held on Sunday, and from a separate statement by the Chinese official news agency, Xinhua, was any hint that even one of the many commercial, investment and technological problems between the two countries had been resolved.
China placed restrictions last Monday on the export of two critical metals, gallium and germanium, used in computer chips. China produces almost the entire world supply of both materials. The export controls were widely seen as retaliation for American limits on semiconductor exports to China, although Beijing did not characterize its measure as retaliation. Mrs. Yellen, speaking Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said the move was “perhaps” retaliatory.
Beijing is also preparing the long-discussed possibility that the Biden administration may limit US investment in some high-tech sectors of the Chinese economy. China imposed its own limits on outward investment in 2015. Beijing steered the country’s companies and households away from speculating in American real estate and European soccer clubs and pushed them instead to buy foreign businesses in aircraft manufacturing, heavy manufacturing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and others. strategic sectors.
Ms. Yellen, however, tried on Sunday to put an optimistic spin on her visit, as she sought to dismiss speculation that conflict may be inevitable.
“Navigating the contours of the US-China relationship is no easy task, but we must never forget that, despite the challenges, our path is not predetermined,” she said.
Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.