By Joe Cash

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Monday called on the U.S. to take “practical action” in response to its “major concerns” about sanctions on Chinese firms, after U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrapped up more than 10 hours of meetings with senior officials in Beijing.

Yellen came to Beijing seeking to ease tensions between the world’s two superpowers, and while there was no breakthrough, both sides described their talks as “productive” and agreed to keep channels open “at all levels” for talks on the economy.

The visit boosts chances for a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping later this year, possibly at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Francisco in November.

Before departing on Sunday, Yellen told reporters that she and her Chinese counterparts had “aired significant disagreements” in their meetings, a sentiment reflected in a readout from China’s finance ministry on Monday morning.

China “requires” the U.S. to “cease the suppression of Chinese enterprises, lift bans on Xinjiang-related products, and take concrete steps to respond to China’s major concerns in economic relations between the two countries,” the ministry wrote.

The United States has imposed sanctions on some companies for using forced labour in the far-western region of Xinjiang.

Beijing denies the use of forced labour and any other abuses there.

The ministry also said China believed its development was an opportunity rather than a risk to the U.S. and that “strengthening cooperation between China and the United States is a realistic need and the correct choice of the two countries.”

“The re-commencement of senior-level Sino-U.S. talks in diversified areas could open up room for more cooperation on bilateral and global issues,” said Hong Kong-based Bruce Pang, chief economist at Jones Lang LaSalle.

“I expect more working-level communications ahead, on a range of topics where there is more consensus than disagreements, such as climate change and the tariff reduction list, among others,” he added.

(Reporting by Joe Cash and Ellen Zhang; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Stephen Coates)

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