Chinese commerce minister to hold talks in US amid disputes over tariffs and technology

BEIJING (AP) — China’s commerce minister will hold talks with officials in the U.S. this week amid sharpening disputes over tariffs and technology, his ministry said Thursday.

Wang Wentao will meet with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai while in the U.S. to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum trade minister meetings on Thursday and Friday in Detroit, Michigan.

In announcing Wang’s visit, Commerce Ministry spokesperson Shu Jueting denounced a decision by Japan, a fellow APEC member, to join the U.S. and Holland in barring Chinese access to leading-edge computer chip technology.

“This is the abuse of export measures and the departure from free trade and international economic and trade rules,” Shu said. “This will severely damage the interests of Chinese and Japanese enterprises and the trade cooperation between China and Japan.”

China has long been reliant on Japanese technology, but now needs machines available only from a single Dutch company, ASML Holding NV, that etch microscopic circuits on next-generation chips. Without that, the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to develop advanced chips for smartphones, artificial intelligence and other applications are stalled.

In what was seen as retaliation, China’s cybersecurity watchdog on Sunday announced a ban on products from U.S. memory chipmaker Micron Technology Inc. in some computer systems.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said Micron products have unspecified security risks but gave no details.

The trade disputes have brought supply disruptions and caused billions of dollars in lost sales but are seen as necessary by the West to prevent Beijing from accessing technology with military applications.

China has stepped up its threats to invade self-governing Taiwan, increased its military presence in the South China Sea to back its claims to the strategic waterway, and provided diplomatic and economic backing to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Despite their political differences, trade between China and the U.S. topped $690 billion last year, while an estimated 295,000 Chinese students are enrolled in American colleges and universities.