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SAN FRANCISCO: The United States and China plan further talks on commercial issues next year, the US Commerce Department said Friday in a commitment to continue high level engagement despite tensions.

The announcement came after the US and Chinese presidents, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, held a summit on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in San Francisco this week.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo spoke with her Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao on Thursday, after the Biden-Xi talks, on the countries’ commercial relationship.

“During the meeting, the two discussed progress made under the commercial issues working group and planned to hold an in-person meeting in early 2024,” the Commerce Department said in a statement.

Dining with US firms at APEC, Xi says China is ready to be a partner

Both sides would also hold technical discussions on boosting the protection of trade secrets during proceedings next January.

Tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have soared in recent years as both sides clashed on issues ranging from human rights to export controls.

Washington says its export curbs, which aim at reducing China’s access to advanced chips critical to the development of AI tech and cutting-edge weapons, are a national security measure.

But Beijing has dismissed those concerns and Xi told Biden this week that such actions hurt China’s “legitimate interests.”

For now, Raimondo’s planned talks follow her August trip to Beijing, and come in spite of both sides’ differences.

The Commerce Department plans to work with Chinese authorities as well, to promote ties through the revival of a tourism leadership summit scheduled to take place in May in Xi’an.

“Secretary Raimondo also reinforced that protecting national security is not negotiable,” the Commerce Department statement said, adding that US controls are not designed to contain China’s growth.

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