Xi’s Top Trade Official Unexpectedly Attended China-U.S. Talks

Ivan Schwartz
January 8, 2019

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in December agreed to put on hold a spiraling trade dispute of tit-for-tat import tariffs on hundreds of billions worth of goods.

China's major state-owned grain firm has since said it has resumed buying USA soybeans, and Beijing suspended extra tariffs on US-made cars and auto parts on January 1.

This is the first illegal incursion by the United States into the South China Sea this year and it coincides with the renewal of negotiations to solve the economic-trade conflict. "Their economy's not doing well", Trump told reporters at the White House before boarding the Marine One presidential helicopter. The Commerce Ministry did not give further details on who was leading Chinese negotiators or on the meeting's agenda.

On Friday, Beijing cut bank reserve requirements amid slowing growth at home and pressure from the USA tariffs.

Trump administration officials were to begin two days of trade talks in China early Monday, Beijing time.

China's stridently nationalist Global Times tabloid said in an editorial late on Sunday that statements from both sides that they hoped to reach a deal were cause for optimism, but that Beijing would not cave in to USA demands.

China claims nearly all of the strategic waters, and frequently lambasts the United States and its allies for freedom of navigation naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands.

Members of the United States trade delegation to China leave a hotel in Beijing on January 7, 2019.

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If there is no deal by March 1, Washington has said it will go ahead with a sharp hike in tariffs on Chinese goods originally set for January 1.

"It certainly has hurt the Chinese economy", Ross told CNBC. Beijing responded by imposing penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing down customs clearance for USA companies, and suspending issuance of licenses in finance and other industries.

These working-level discussions are not expected to yield a concrete deal, but are a substantial step for both sides to check the progress of offers and demands before their top negotiators - Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer - can sit down to reach an agreement. "We have lodged stern representations with the USA side".

Speaking at a conference on China organized by the Swiss bank UBS, former Goldman executive Fred Hu said that China not only could not but should not dismantle its economic system in favor of a market-based economy, according to Bloomberg.

For their part, Chinese officials are unhappy with USA curbs on exports of "dual use" technology with possible military applications.

In addition to the bruising trade war, China is also grappling with a slowing domestic economy, with growth slowing to 6.5 percent in the third quarter, as a battle against debt has ramped up.

The current round of negotiations is being held at the vice-ministerial level, with the US' team of negotiators led by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish.

Trump on Friday said he was not concerned about Apple's revenue warning.

Other reports by GizPress

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