US commerce secretary rejects Chinese appeal to ease export controls

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said she rebuffed an appeal Tuesday by Chinese leaders to reduce U.S. export controls on technology with possible military uses but the two governments agreed to have experts meet to discuss disputes over protecting trade secrets.

During a visit to revive frosty relations, Raimondo said she conveyed complaints to officials including China’s No. 2 leader, Premier Li Qiang, about Chinese restrictions on U.S. technology companies. She said conditions for foreign companies are getting worse following an expansion of an anti-spying law and raids on consulting firms.

Raimondo joined a series of American officials including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen who have visited Beijing in the past three months. They are trying to restore relations that are at their lowest level in decades due to disputes over technology, security, Taiwan and other issues.

A key Chinese complaint is limits on access to processor chips and other U.S. technology on security grounds. That threatens to hamper the ruling Communist Party’s ambition to develop artificial intelligence and other industries. The curbs crippled the smartphone business of Huawei Technologies Ltd., China’s first global tech brand.

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