Trade talks to put China-US trade relations on right course, says expert

With China and the United States seeing last week's trade talks as an opportunity to present each other's demands, the talks will put the bilateral trade ties on the right course, said a Chinese expert.

China's official Xinhua News Agency described the trade talks as a "constructive, candid and efficient discussion", where senior Chinese and American officials "reached a consensus on certain fields". It indicates that the two countries would move away from confrontation and toward consultation, said Xinhua.

However, Lv Xiang, a research fellow of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, does not see the trade talks as real negotiation, saying that the US delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin raised unreasonable demands during the talks that Beijing could not accept and were in violation of the basic economic and trade rules.

In last week's trade talks, the US delegation demanded that China cut the trade deficit with the United States by at least $200 billion by the end of 2020. In addition, the US delegation asked the Chinese government to stop offering subsidies to firms in the industries covered by its "Made in China 2025" plan.

In return, China called on the United States to suspend the "Section 301" investigation against Beijing's trade and industrial policies and to lift restrictions on technology exports to China.

Admitting China's big trade surplus with the United States that is created by several complicated factors, Lv suggested that the disagreements between the two countries on trade deficit could be solved under the bilateral communication mechanism and the framework of the World Trade Organization. Lv sees America's "Section 301" and "Section 232" investigations against China's trade practices as an act of "domination".

Therefore, helped by last week's trade talks, China and the United States could establish a work mechanism that offers the two countries a communication channel for the solution of their trade problems, said Lv, adding that the mechanism could help bring the bilateral trade relations on the right course.

On Monday, Chinese and American media reported that Liu He, Chinese President Xi's top economic adviser and the country's vice premier, would visit Washington next week to continue the trade talks with senior American officials, signaling that the two countries are making efforts to end the tit-for-tat trade spat especially after last week's trade talks failed to produce any substantial agreements.

During a news briefing, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that the two countries "are working on something that we think will be great for everybody", while revealing Liu's Washington planned visit next week. "China's top economic adviser, the vice premier, will be coming here next week to continue the discussions with the president's economic team. We will keep you posted as the discussions are ongoing," said Sanders.

Earlier this year, Liu promised American business leaders during a Washington tour that China will take steps to reform the economy, Bloomberg reported, citing a person close to the matter. At the time, Liu raised three requests for the Trump administration: Establish a new economic dialogue, name a point person on China issues and hand over a specific list of demands, Bloomberg quoted the person as saying.

During the Boao Forum for Asia, Chinese President Xi appeared to strike a soft tone by saying in his opening speech that China will open its doors "wider and wider to foreign investors" as part of the country's plan to deepen its opening up policy. At the time, some Western experts saw Xi's remarks as a conciliatory gesture after the trade spat with the United States was squinting toward a full-scale trade war.

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