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China has warned of trade implications with certain countries following disputes, seeking assistance from ‘the firm’

Europian and Lithuanian Union flags (Calvin Gates/SHutterstock)

Business is thriving at “the firm.”

A small team of eight at the State Department is leading Washington’s efforts to help countries affected by China’s economic actions.

The initiative started when Lithuania sought assistance during a disagreement with China over Taiwan two years ago. Since then, “the firm” has been increasingly aiding other nations facing what diplomats describe as economic pressure from Beijing.

Undersecretary of State Jose Fernandez explained in a recent interview with The Associated Press that countries often reach out for support without needing advertisements. He likened their role to that of a consulting firm.

Melanie Hart, a senior adviser at the State Department, heads the team.

Gabrielius Landsbergis attends a meeting (Calvin Gates/SHutterstock)

They assess vulnerabilities and devise strategies for countries concerned about losing trade with China, building on their initial work with Lithuania. Fernandez noted that more than a dozen countries have sought help from the Biden administration since then.

This effort coincides with heightened U.S. efforts to counter China’s global influence amid escalating tensions between the two nations.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington disputed the characterization of Beijing using economic pressure tactics against other countries, calling it baseless. Instead, they accused the United States of economic bullying through export controls and unfair treatment of Chinese companies.

Fernandez countered that China frequently employs such tactics, believing intimidation is effective. He emphasized the necessity of intervening to address this issue.

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