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Before Yellen’s Trip to China, Official Mouthpiece Reports on Yellen “Public Opinion Flop”

In the days leading up to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s trip to China, official Chinese state news agency Xinhua published a report titled “Blaming China, U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen Suffers Public Opinion Flop.” The report states that, on March 27th, Yellen visited a photovoltaic battery factory in Norcross, Georgia, and accused China’s renewable energy industry of “overcapacity” only to face a backlash in public opinion.

During her speech at the factory, Yellen expressed concern over “global spillovers from the excess capacity that we are seeing in China,” saying that such excess capacity distorts global prices and production patterns, ultimately harming American firms and workers.

Xinhua reported that Yellen’s comments sparked immediate criticism from netizens. One commenter said that her complaint about China’s rapid development of green energy technology is akin to a weightlifter who doesn’t train but complains that another weightlifter can lift heavier weights. Others questioned why it would be problematic if China increases production to lower prices, suggesting that this would benefit consumers and promote the adoption of renewable energy technologies like solar panels.

Xinhua also quoted netizens who challenged Yellen’s notion of “global prices,” arguing that prices are determined by manufacturing costs, transportation, and profit margins, saying that any manufacturer can set their own prices.

The report added that, on news sites such as the Financial Times, hundreds of netizens overwhelmingly criticized Yellen’s remarks. Reportedly, some commenters called her remarks fallacious, accusing the U.S. of initially claiming that China was not doing enough in green energy, and now reversing course to criticize them for doing too much on the issue. Others pointed out America’s “double standards,” saying that the U.S. talks about free markets when it has a competitive advantage but resorts to protectionism when it doesn’t.

The Xinhua report concluded by quoting a netizen who accused the U.S. of hypocrisy, saying “the U.S. has one set of rules for itself and another for others.”

Source: Xinhua News Agency, March 29, 2024