In an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Tuesday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stressed the importance of communication in fostering the country’s economic relationship with China. Raimondo said U.S. businesses are “desperate” for dialogue.
Raimondo visited Beijing and Shanghai last week to meet with government officials, becoming the first U.S. Commerce secretary to travel to the country in five years, but the fourth high-level U.S. official to visit China this summer.
“I did, myself, personally, talk to over a hundred CEOs of U.S. businesses before going to China, and to say that they were desperate for some kind of a dialogue is not an exaggeration,” Raimondo said. “I’m not going to say we’re going to solve every problem, because we won’t. But to even find some practical solutions, I have to be the voice of business and put it to the Chinese government, and give them, you know, a chance to make some changes and show some action.”
U.S. businesses need a “level playing field” in China, Raimondo said, as many fear raids or unpredictable government action toward their companies.
The Commerce secretary also touched on artificial intelligence. She said the government is “erring on the side of caution” and attempting to ensure China does not get the most sophisticated AI chips made in the U.S.
“Even they are a little bit scared about the destructive power of AI,” Raimondo said of the artificial intelligence creators she has spoken with. “And we can’t let that get into the hands of the Chinese military.”
Raimondo went on to explain the “soft power” that stems from American brands in China, emphasizing the need for a stable and practical relationship with Beijing, adding the tourism industry creates jobs and adds billions to the U.S. economy.
“Not decoupling our economy is critical, not just for our economy but for our national security,” she said. “We have to do business where we can, communicate and have dialogue where we can, and never compromise our national security.”