Trump stays bullish on U.S.-China trade talks

Blanche Robertson
January 9, 2019

Some analysts say that China - Pyongyang's key diplomatic ally and main source of trade - could use Kim's visit as a bargaining chip in the U.S. trade talks. They are hoping, at the very least, that the trade war initiated by President Trump does not escalate, that both sides step back from the brink.

"We urge the U.S. to immediately stop such provocative actions", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing, adding that Beijing had lodged a diplomatic complaint with Washington.

United States commerce secretary Wilbur Ross predicted that the U.S. and Chinaare likely to reach a trade deal, as officials from both nations met for face-to-face talks in Beijingon Monday (New York time).

In a sign the meeting was off to a good start, China's economic czar, Vice Premier Liu He, dropped by the talks on Monday to encourage the negotiators. But economists say that is too little time to resolve issues that have disrupted U.S.

Increased purchases by China of U.S. soybeans, oil, liquefied natural gas and financial services are viewed as easier to achieve than major changes to China's industrial policies aimed at transferring United States technology to Chinese firms. Liu led a previous round of talks in Washington past year that ended in failure, and he's expected to meet chief US negotiator Robert Lighthizer later this month.

As with previous operations, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the US operation.

How China will enforce those measures will be key to any deal.

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A USA guided-missile destroyer sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea in what China called a "provocation" as USA officials joined talks in Beijing during a truce in a bitter trade war.

Previous U.S. Navy surface operations of this kind have challenged China's requirements for prior notification before the conduct of innocent passage transits in the 12 nautical mile zone of the features it occupies in the Paracel group. That includes giving specific dates for making purchases, and making assurances that Beijing won't hinder US companies from gaining access to China's market. Apple Inc. cut its revenue outlook last week as sales of the iPhone were slower than expected in China, while data on factory activity and retail sales in the Asian nation were also weak.

But much work remains before the two economic powers climb down. That meeting would likely include a senior Chinese government official along with trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

USA officials are in Beijing this week to continue trade negotiations with the Chinese government as the March 1 deadline for the countries' 90-day tariff truce draws closer.

The White House is making sure this go-around is different.

U.S. Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, center, who is part of U.S. trade delegation leaves from a hotel for a second day of meetings with Chinese officials in Beijing, China, Jan. 8, 2019.

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