Chinese Agreements to Have No Binding Force, If US Imposes Tariffs - Beijing

Aaron Brown
June 3, 2018

"The outcome of the talks should be based on the prerequisite that the two parties meet each other halfway and will not engage in a trade war", official news agency, Xinhua reported quoting from the statement.

Beijing said the two sides had made "positive and concrete progress" on matters like increasing agricultural and energy imports but said details were left for "both sides to finalise".

After talks between Vice Premier Liu He and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, China said it was ready to boost imports from many countries.

The visit by Ross follows renewed tariff threats this week against China by the Trump administration, and as US allies are in a foul mood with Washington after they were hit with duties on steel and aluminum.

Liu is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and chief of the Chinese side of the China-US comprehensive economic dialogue.

While many countries share US frustration with Chinese trade and economic practices, critics of USA policy under Trump have warned that Washington risks alienating the European Union, Canada and Mexico with 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

But just when it appeared a trade truce between the two economic heavyweights was on the cards, the White House last week warned it would pursue tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, as well as impose restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States and tighter export controls.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", Ross told the media after dining with Liu on Saturday evening.

But the truce appeared to end with last week's announcement Washington was going ahead with tariff hikes on technology goods and also would impose curbs on Chinese investment and purchases of United States high-tech exports. It said the White House also will impose curbs on Chinese investment and purchases of United States high-tech goods and on visas for Chinese students.

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The U.S. team also wants to secure greater intellectual property protection and an end to Chinese subsidies that have contributed to overproduction of steel and aluminum.

State news outlets have portrayed the ZTE decision as having been made by Mr. Ross's Commerce Department, and they have suggested that it is merely a bargaining ploy as part of trade negotiations.

Following Beijing's announcement, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the dispute was "on hold".

But Beijing warned all the results were premised on "not fighting a trade war".

The two countries have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150bn each.

Ross was accompanied by agriculture, treasury and trade officials for the meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, a leafy compound on Beijing's west side.

Those hard issues include what the US complains is rampant theft of intellectual property, as well as Beijing's support for cutting-edge technologies under its Made in China 2025 policy.

At the center of the row was the White House's decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum produced by key USA allies in the European Union and Canada. "If there are structural changes that allow our companies to compete fairly, by definition that will deal with the trade deficit alone".

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