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US treasury secretary Yellen talks of taking tough stand against China

Janet Yellen, Secretary of US Treasury Department

Janet Yellen, secretary, US treasury department, who took over from Steven Mnuchin, may not significantly deviate from the charter followed by the previous Donald Trump administration. Yellen, the first woman to lead the US treasury, has a tough job at hand with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting a 3.4 per cent contraction for the American economy. Expected to play a critical role in getting the Congress’ approval for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic package, she has already underlined the need to take on China for its “abusive, unfair and illegal practices.”

Yellen has even told the lawmakers that China is guilty of human rights abuses.

According to a Reuters report, she not only described China as the “most important strategic competitor,” but also highlighted that the need to make necessary “investments” to compete with the dragon.

“The most likely approach the Biden administration would take, as Biden himself has indicated, would be trying to unite US allies to exert pressure on China, including forming new trade and economic partnerships in an attempt to isolate China, analysts said, noting that would be more of the same approach taken during the Barack Obama presidency,” Global Times, the Chinese state owned media organisation noted.

It further said that especially in the wake of the US-China trade war where the American treasury department played a major role, “Yellen's remarks were closely watched and even interpreted by some as a continuation of Trump's tough confrontational policies.”

Yellen is not the only one in the Biden camp to have openly spoken up against China. Secretary for state Antony Blinken too has gone ahead in endorsing Trump’s China policy saying that Beijing is seeking to become the dominant world power.

What does this appointment mean to India

Indian policymakers are also closely watching the US treasury's moves. “New Delhi will be interested in striking a currency swap deal with the US under Yellen. There has been no indication from the new secretary on this,” Subhomoy Bhattacharjee, author and an economic analyst told IndiaNarrative.com. 

Bhattacharjee added that just inducted secretary with her vast experience in policy making will be the most suited to guide the US. “Her extensive understanding of the dynamics of employment issues, particularly salient for a developing country like India, gives her a perspective that the Wall Street bankers of recent years who became Treasury Secretary had no clue about,” he wrote in a recent article.

Yellen has many firsts to her credit. She was the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve between 2014 and 2018. She has also served as the top economist during the Clinton Presidency.

The other key appointees in the Biden camp Indications are that Biden’s team driving economic policies would be an all-women’s one. Besides Yellen, labor economist and the Dean of Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs, Cecilia Rouse is set to take over as the Chairperson of Council of Economic advisers. While Katherine Tai is tipped to be take charge as the US Trade Representative, Gina Raimondo is slated to be the Secretary of Commerce.