Ms. Yellen took a hard line on China at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, warning that she would use a “full array” of tools to combat what she described as abusive economic practices.
“China is clearly our most important strategic competitor,” Ms. Yellen said, suggesting that the Biden administration would take a skeptical view of the world’s second-largest economy.
Ms. Yellen accused China of dumping products, stealing intellectual property, providing illegal subsidies to its companies and having weak labor and environmental standards. She said that the United States needs to work with its allies to compel China to curb such abuses.
The Biden administration is inheriting a tense relationship with China, which frayed during President Trump’s trade war and then again amid the pandemic, with the United States accusing China of not doing enough to prevent the virus from leaving its borders.
One of the biggest decisions facing the Biden administration and Ms. Yellen is whether to keep Mr. Trump’s tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese imports, which have raised costs for many American companies. Ms. Yellen was not asked whether she would prefer to keep those in place or not.
But her sharp words come nearly one year after the Trump administration signed the first phase of a trade deal between the two countries, suggesting that she does not believe the agreement succeeded in dealing with the most critical structural problems in the economic relationship between the two countries.
Ms. Yellen is expected to take a somewhat different approach from the Trump administration, including working with allies to combat China and investing in America’s economy to help the nation better compete with China.
Ms. Yellen suggested the United States should invest heavily in infrastructure and adopt economic policies that address climate change, which she described as, “one of the most critical questions facing the economy and the world.”
Investing in clean technology, renewable energy and providing incentives for electric cars would be priorities for protecting the environment and creating jobs, Ms. Yellen said.