China is set to end high-level trade talks with US early – SCMP

Deputy-level trade talks failed to yield progress and now high-level talks are expected to last only one day – SCMP

US China trade war (flags)
The Chinese deputy-level trade delegation refused to broach the hot-button issue of forced technology transfers in talks with US counterparts this week, unnamed sources told the South China Morning Post [File: Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

Deputy-level trade talks between United States and Chinese officials this week were supposed to prepare the ground for more fruitful negotiations between top officials scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Washington.

But the lower-level talks failed to make progress on key issues, with the Chinese delegation refusing to broach the hot-button issue of forced technology transfers, unnamed sources told the South China Morning Post (SCMP). 

Top-level officials from the world’s two largest economies were expected to meet Thursday and Friday in Washington to hash out differences that have dragged out the US-China trade war for more than a year.  But Chinese officials now plan to leave Washington on Thursday, ending discussion a day earlier than scheduled, a source told the SCMP

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump sounded an optimistic note about the prospects for a breakthrough in trade negotiations. “If we can make a deal, we’re going to make a deal, there’s a really good chance,” said Trump. “In my opinion, China wants to make a deal more than I do,” he added.

Beijing had lowered its expectations for significant progress during this week’s trade talks, Chinese government officials told Reuters News Agency, after the US blacklisted more than two dozen Chinese entities on Monday.

While Beijing theoretically wants to end the trade war, Chinese Communist Party officials are not optimistic about the size or scope of any agreement with Washington in the short term, the Chinese officials told Reuters.

The 15-month-old trade war between Washington and Beijing is dragging down the global economy and threatening to upend decades-old trade systems.

Without significant progress, Trump is set to increase the tariff rate on $250bn worth of Chinese goods to 30 percent from 25 percent next Tuesday.

While previous lower-level talks between US and Chinese officials aimed to create a good atmosphere for the upcoming meeting, the US blacklisting of Chinese entities has generated a negative atmosphere instead, Chinese officials told Reuters. 

On Monday, the US Department of Commerce blacklisted 28 Chinese entities including video surveillance firm Hikvision, citing human rights violations of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.

Chinese officials said the action interfered with China’s sovereignty.

Relations between the US and China have also been roiled this week by tit-for-tat bans on certain visas for each country’s officials and a controversy sparked by a Twitter post by an executive with the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets supporting anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

The US demand that the Chinese Communist Party fundamentally change how it directs China’s massive economy to shift to a more Western model of free-market capitalism is irrational and misguided, a Chinese diplomat in the US told Reuters.

“What we achieved during the past few decades shows that our system is good for development in China,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. China would not ask the US to shift to an economy that relies heavily on state-owned enterprises, or ask it to start fully funding education, as China’s does, said the official, so why should Washington expect the same from Beijing?

Western governments’ treatment of China in the past, including welcoming the country into multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization, has been predicated on the assumption that this ultimately would lead to Beijing’s liberalisation and gradual embrace of democratic norms.

Source: News Agencies