The U.S. and China Are Talking Again. Where It Will Lead Is Unclear.

“I don’t want to return to the days of dialogue for dialogue’s sake,” she said. “That being said, nothing good comes from shutting down communication. What comes from lack of communication is mis-assessment, miscalculation and increased risk.”

“We have to make it different,” Ms. Raimondo said of her new dialogue, adding that the U.S.-China relationship was too consequential. “We have to commit ourselves to take some action. And we can’t allow ourselves to devolve into a cynical place.”

Kurt Tong, a former U.S. consul general in Hong Kong who is now a managing partner at the Asia Group, a Washington consulting firm, said Ms. Raimondo had offered China half of what it wanted. She sent a clear message that many American companies should feel free to do business in China, after years of receiving criticism for doing so during the Trump administration and still from many Republicans in Congress. But she did not agree to relax American export controls.

“China is essentially forced by circumstances to accept that half a loaf,” Mr. Tong said, adding, “I do sense there is a real desire in Beijing to stabilize the relationship, both because of the geopolitical relationship but also, perhaps more important, the doldrums on the economic side.”

The recent weakness in the Chinese economy may create some opening for compromise. The Chinese economy has only limped back from its pandemic lockdowns. China’s youth unemployment rate has risen, its debt is piling up, and foreign investment in the country has fallen, as multinational companies look for other places to set up their factories.

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