White House says China’s actions on Micron won’t torpedo relations

By Andrea Shalal and Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China’s move on Micron Technology Inc won’t torpedo larger efforts to get U.S.-China relations into better position, White House spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday, adding that Washington was engaged directly with Beijing.

Kirby told reporters the Chinese government’s recent ban on the U.S. chipmaker Micron over security concerns was clearly an attempt to undermine the Group of Seven (G7) nations’ strong stance against economic coercion, coming just one day after the G7 issued its first-ever statement on the issue.

He said the White House was communicating directly with the Chinese government, and said he did not expect the dispute over Micron to derail efforts by the White House for a more productive relationship with China.

“This is a complicated relationship and there’s going to be ups and downs,” Kirby said, adding Washington would “not sit idly by when we see the PRC act inappropriately.”

“That doesn’t mean that it alone should or will – or is – torpedoing the larger effort that the president was speaking to about getting the lines of communications back open,” he added.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday said the G7 agreed to “de-risk and diversify” their relations with China, but forecast a thaw in relations could come “very shortly” after strains sparked over U.S. forces’ shooting down of a Chinese balloon that flew over sensitive U.S. military sites.

Kirby said it was more important than ever to ensure “more open” lines of communication, and said efforts were continuing to facilitate visits to China by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

“We are going to try to see if we can get more productive engagements in coming months,” he said, adding that Biden was referring to a spate of outreach and discussions with Beijing that had shown some “potential promise.”

He said there were also discussions by the Defense Department to get a conversation going between Defense Secretary Austin Lloyd and his counterpart as he prepared to attend a Shangri-la Dialogue security meeting in Singapore in June.

Discussions were also continuing about a possible meeting between U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and her Chinese counterpart during this week’s Asia-Pacific-Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Detroit, he said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)