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US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made a ‘big error’ bowing to China: ‘Weakens’ power, Wilbur Ross warns

Bowing to her Chinese counterpart was a "big error" by Janet Yellen that projected "weakness" on the world stage, former U.S. Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross says.

After watching U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen abroad in China and reflecting on his own meetings with Chinese officials under the Trump administration, one former cabinet member warned Yellen made a "very serious" mistake.

"I think it's true that you only have the power that you project that you have. And if you project weakness, it weakens whatever power you might really have. So I think it was an error, big error on her part to do that," former U.S. Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross said on "Kudlow" Monday.

On Saturday, Yellen made an unusual gesture when she bowed upon meeting Vice Premier He Lifeng – her Chinese counterpart – multiple times while enthusiastically shaking his hand.

Her trip last week marked the Biden administration’s second high-level visit to Beijing in weeks aimed at cooling tensions between the U.S. and China.

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At a press conference following her bilateral meetings, Yellen claimed talks were productive and helped stabilize the relationship between the two world powers.

Talk is nice, Ross criticized, but China has not truly honored the phase-one tariff trade deal. The former commerce secretary argued Yellen should’ve taken more firm action.

"Dialog for the sake of dialog gets you nowhere. You have to have a purpose to it," Ross said. "And our purpose should be making things a more level-playing field, and correcting the mistakes that have been made historically by being too weak in the relationship."

America has let China become the "major processor" of precious minerals and resources without any competitive bidding, the former secretary added.

"It's very much our own fault, but it's correctable," Ross noted. "We have to get together with Canada and Australia, who are the other two with us, big sources of these materials, and we should be dominating the world supply. And so it's not enough just to complain that China is cutting us off. We shouldn't be putting ourselves in a position where anybody can cut us off from anything."

Yellen's visit comes as the U.S. federal government attempts to rekindle its relationship with China, which has been damaged in recent years over a number of issues, including Taiwan and technology.

The Treasury secretary additionally said the goal of her visit was to strengthen ties to China's new economic team, reduce the risk of misunderstanding and create a path for cooperation in climate change, debt distress, and other areas.

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But Ross warned "we need more than that" – which is to make American companies top competitors again.

"The other countries subsidize semiconductors. We need to match that because we cannot afford the continuation of a situation where we buy half of all the semiconductors in the world and we only make less than 20% of them," the former Trump cabinet member explained. "So we are largely dependent on overseas. It's no good."

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FOX Business’ Landon Mion and Fox News’ Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this report.

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