The US lifted restrictions on 27 Chinese companies and organizations, a sign Washington is extending an apparent olive branch ahead of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s planned trip to Beijing this month. 

The US Department of Commerce on Monday removed the Chinese entities — such as chemical firm and lithium battery material maker Guangdong Guanghua Sci-Tech Co., and sensor maker NanJing GOVA Technology Co. — from its “unverified list,” which restricts a company’s ability to buy American technology. 

The companies were taken off the list after they successfully completed end-use checks that allowed the commerce department’s Bureau of Industry and Security to establish their “legitimacy and reliability,” according to a government statement.

Companies on that list need to obtain additional licenses to buy products from US firms and organizations. Along with the more than two dozen Chinese entities — which also included two universities and a handful of other technology firms — the US also removed parties from Indonesia, Pakistan, Singapore, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. 

China welcomed the move, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Wang Wenbin saying Tuesday that it showed that “the two sides can address specific concerns through communication, based on mutual respect.”

“China will continue to firmly defend the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies and institutions,” he added.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo

Raimondo is expected to visit China later this month as part of the Biden administration’s effort to reduce tensions between the world’s two largest economies. 

The Chinese side also seems to be trying to ease strains. Premier Li Qiang on Monday told a visiting US-China Business Council delegation that the two economies complement each other more than they stand in competition, according to reports from the official Xinhua News Agency.

“China is willing to work with the US in undertaking their responsibilities as major countries, jointly upholding international trade rules, and ensuring the stability of global industrial and supply chains,” Li told the delegation, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Raimondo would be the fourth high-level member of President Joe Biden’s administration to visit China since June, following Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and climate envoy John Kerry. So far the visits have yielded few breakthroughs, but both sides have been eager to frame the talks as a positive step for bilateral relations. 

One likely expectation from the Raimondo trip would be to establish a working group between her department and China’s commerce ministry, Bloomberg News reported earlier. That group would discuss US export controls aimed at preventing cutting-edge American technology from being used by China’s military.

Export controls have provoked fierce opposition from Beijing at a time when the Biden administration is trying to improve sour relations, all while hard-liners in Washington are pushing for even more curbs — and urging against negotiating with Chinese officials.

In December, the Department of Commerce removed 26 entities from the unverified list after Beijing allowed US representatives to check that they were in compliance with regulations.