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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

China Trade Threats Keep U.S. "Firm" Busy

Updated: 5 days ago

Business is good at “the firm.”

Undersecretary of State Jose Fernandez said intimidation is a tactic China “is using over and over. I Photo: U.S. Department of State Flickr

The eight-person team at the State Department is leading Washington’s efforts to ease the economic blowback for countries targeted by China, Didi Tang reported for the Associated Press (AP).

It emerged in the scramble to help Lithuania during a spat with China over Taiwan two years ago.

Today, “the firm” is helping a growing number of nations cope with what diplomats call economic coercion from Beijing. Countries “knock on the door, they call,” Undersecretary of State Jose Fernandez told AP in a recent interview.

“We run a consulting firm that does not have to advertise for clients, as they come.”

Led by State Department senior adviser Melanie Hart, the group reviews vulnerabilities and develops responses for countries that are cut off or fear losing trade with global powerhouse China.

Since the group’s launch with Lithuania, more than 12 countries have approached the Biden administration for help, Fernandez said.

The effort comes as Washington steps up its campaign to push back against China’s global influence and tensions grow between the rivals.

Fernandez said intimidation is a tactic China “is using over and over. They believe that intimidation works. That’s why we got into the act. The time had come to stop this thing.”


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