China said it would strive to make substantial progress to resolve the trade war with the United States when the countries’ negotiators hold face-to-face talks in early October.
The ministry said both sides had agreed to make concrete efforts to create positive conditions for continued dialogue. The two sides will meet in Washington in early October.
“On the basis of full preparation by the working groups of both sides, efforts striving for substantive progress will be made in the 13th round of China-U.S. high-level economic and trade consultations in early October,” ministry spokesperson Gao Feng told reporters.
“The economic and trade teams from both sides have maintained effective communication.”
After their Aug. 13 phone call, the two sides had indicated they would meet in September. Since then, both countries have increased tariffs on imports of each other’s products, and China has said it would not make concessions because of U.S. pressure.
Other Chinese officials, including Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, central bank governor Yi Gang and Ning Jizhe, the deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, also joined the phone call.
The U.S. imposed tariffs on imports of roughly US$110 billion in Chinese goods on Sunday, in the latest escalation of the dispute.
Taoran Notes, a social media account affiliated with the state-run newspaper Economic Daily, said in a commentary that officials from both countries may address each other’s core concerns in the coming days.
China has insisted that a trade deal should be equal and balanced, including removing tariffs and agreeing reasonable quantities of Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural and other products.
“The upcoming trend, whether it will develop in a positive direction or repeat [previous tensions], will probably be decided by [the Americans’ actions],” it said.
Researchers were playing down hopes for a significant breakthrough in the short term. Lu Xiang, a research fellow on U.S. issues with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, expected the trade teams to discuss and reach an agenda for the forthcoming face-to-face talks, but said it was unclear to what degree the U.S. trade team could speak for Trump’s intentions.
“What Trump will do is getting more unpredictable now that he is into ‘garbage time’ [as U.S. president],” Lu said. “We can only try to find sensible clues in his nonsense. We would be better not to play up expectations for the outcome.”
Wang Yong, a professor on international relations with Peking University, said a slowdown in the U.S. economy could affect Washington’s demands, along with the president’s unpredictable nature.
Wang said a wide range of issues would be discussed at the October meeting, with key issues expected to include market access for foreign companies in China, U.S. visa restrictions for Chinese applicants and the quantities of American products to be purchased by China.
Liu met Republican senators Steve Daines and David Perdue on Tuesday, saying that China firmly opposed the trade war on the basis that it was not conducive to China, the U.S. or the world.
Trump said on Wednesday that Beijing had requested the meeting between Liu and the senators and that he had personally “approved” it.
“They absolutely had my permission, and they also spoke to Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Mnuchin about the trip, before they went there,” Trump told reporters.
The president said he had been told by the senators that “China would like to do something.”
“They’re having a supply chain that’s being absolutely fractured and broken, which is very bad for them,” Trump said.
“They’ve lost 3 million jobs, and the jobs are moving to Vietnam and other places, including the United States, by the way — some people are just making the product here. And, you know, if I were China, I’d want to make a deal.”
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