China hopes US creates favourable conditions for trade talks

China says it hopes the US can cancel planned additional tariffs ahead of the next round of face-to-face talks.

    Although Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said China 'has ample means for retaliation', he also emphasised removing new tariffs to prevent escalation of the trade war [File: Ted S Warren/AP]
    Although Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said China 'has ample means for retaliation', he also emphasised removing new tariffs to prevent escalation of the trade war [File: Ted S Warren/AP]

    China and the United States are discussing the next round of face-to-face trade talks scheduled for September, but hopes for progress hinge on whether Washington can create favourable conditions, China's commerce ministry said on Thursday.

    In the latest tit-for-tat escalation of the trade war between the world's two largest economies, US President Donald Trump last Friday heaped an additional duty of five percent on about $550bn in targeted Chinese goods.

    The move came hours after China had unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75bn worth of US goods.

    China hopes the US can cancel the planned additional tariffs to avoid an escalation in the trade war, its commerce ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, told reporters on Thursday.

    "The most important thing at the moment is to create necessary conditions for both sides to continue negotiations," he said during a weekly briefing, adding that China was lodging "solemn representation" with the US.

    For two years, the Trump administration has sought to pressure China to eliminate what it calls unfair trade practices and make sweeping changes to its policies on intellectual property protection, forced transfers of technology to Chinese firms, industrial subsidies and market access.

    But China has constantly denied such accusations, vowing to fight back in kind and criticising US measures as protectionist.

    Gao reiterated that China had "ample" retaliatory measures it could use if Washington eventually moved to impose the planned tariffs, but was willing to resolve the issue calmly.

    On Monday, Trump predicted a trade deal with China, saying he believed it was sincere about wanting to reach a deal, citing what he called increasing economic pressure on Beijing and job losses there.

    Trump cited as a positive sign comments by Vice Premier Liu He, who has been leading the talks with Washington, that China was willing to resolve the dispute through "calm" negotiations.

    He repeated his assertion that Chinese officials had contacted US trade counterparts overnight, offering to resume negotiations, a statement that China declined to confirm.

    Gao also declined to provide any detail when asked if there had been a call this week between Beijing and Washington.

    "As far as I know, both trade teams have maintained effective communication," he said.

    In July 2018, the US-China trade dispute boiled over in tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of each other's goods and now threatens to engulf all trade between the countries, putting global growth at risk.

    "We hope the United States will show sincerity and concrete actions," Gao said.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency