U.S. commerce chief expressed concerns to Chinese counterpart, Washington says

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund in Shanghai

SHANGHAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration’s top commerce official told her Chinese counterpart Washington is concerned about Beijing’s industrial policies, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, the latest high-level exchange as the countries spar over disagreements.

The department said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s phone call with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao also included discussion of Washington’s view on “the need to level the playing field for U.S. companies in China and the importance of protecting U.S. technology from unauthorized users.”

China’s commerce ministry said separately that the two officials agreed to keep lines of communication open.

“They agreed to promote the healthy development of trade and investment and cooperate in a pragmatic way to handle their differences,” the Chinese ministry said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Chinese Vice Premier Liu spoke with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and late last month he held a similarly “candid” exchange of views with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

The world’s two biggest economies are at loggerheads on a variety of fronts, with the U.S. Senate this week approving a sweeping package of legislation intended to boost the country’s ability to compete with Chinese technology, drawing strong criticism from Beijing.

On Wednesday, however, President Joe Biden withdrew a series of Trump-era executive orders that sought to ban new downloads of the popular Chinese-owned WeChat and TikTok, and ordered a Commerce Department review of security concerns posed by those apps and others.

In a Thursday editorial, official China Daily said the U.S. technology legislation is “really deployment for Cold War.”

(Reporting by Colin Qian, Engen Tham and Tony Munroe; Additional reporting by Jason Lange in Washington; Editing by Tom Hogue, Michael Perry and Jonathan Oatis)