U.S. needs to work with Europe to slow China’s innovation rate, Raimondo says

WASHINGTON – Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Tuesday that the U.S. will rally allies in order to mount pressure on China, the world’s second-largest economy, an approach that differs from the “America First” policies pursued by President Joe Biden’s Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.

“America is most effective when we work with our allies,” Raimondo told CNBC’s Kayla Tausche in an exclusive interview. “If we really want to slow down China’s rate of innovation, we need to work with Europe.”

“They’re ripping off our IP, they are not playing by the rules. It’s not a level playing field. And so we need to hold their feet to the fire to make sure that they do that,” she said, adding that Beijing is “not living up to the agreements that they made.”

When asked if Commerce would take some actions unilaterally to address the great power competition between the U.S. and China in shaping security practices and setting global trade norms, Raimondo again pointed to allies.

“We don’t want autocratic governments like China, writing the rules of the road. We together with our allies, who care about privacy, freedom, individual rights, individual protection, we need to write the rules of the road,” Raimondo said.

The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Wednesday, Raimondo alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken and United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai will represent the Biden administration at the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, or TTC, in Pittsburgh.

Biden’s team will meet with European Commission Executive Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovski in hopes of addressing trade disputes, streamlining regulatory procedures and developing “rules of the road” for emerging technologies on both sides of the Atlantic.

“We have to work with our European allies to deny China the most advanced technology so that they can’t catch up in critical areas like semiconductors,” Raimondo said, adding that the Biden administration plans to deepen cooperation with Europe on export controls.

“We want to work with Europe, to write the rules of the road for technology, whether it’s TikTok or artificial intelligence or cyber,” she said.

Last week, Biden met in person with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan at the White House to discuss shared concerns about China’s growing military and economic influence. The leaders also discussed progress on Covid-19 vaccines, technological cooperation, and a free and open Indo-Pacific region as China grows more assertive in there.

The meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad — as the grouping of the four major democracies is called — came just a week after Biden announced a new security pact with the U.K and Australia, a move that angered Beijing.