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U.S. and China Seek to Avoid Trade War

U.S. and China Seek to Avoid Trade War

Donald Trump praised counterpart Xi Jinping as U.S. delegation arrived in Beijing.

Contentious trade talks between the U.S. and China finally got underway Thursday during a two-day visit by American negotiators following tit-for-tat threats on tariffs by both countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump praised his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the American delegation arrived in Beijing, while Chinese state media insisted the country will stand up to U.S. bullying.

The talks, led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, are expected to cover a range of U.S. complaints regarding China’s trade practices, from accusations of forced technology transfers to state subsidies.

As Mnuchin arrived, Trump tweeted: “Our great financial team is in China trying to negotiate a level playing field on trade! I look forward to being with President Xi in the not too distant future. We will always have a good (great) relationship!”

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated that China welcomed the talks but that they had to be founded on mutual respect. “The outcome should be mutually beneficial and win-win,” Hua said, speaking at a regular briefing.

Throughout his 2016 election campaign, Trump threatened to impose a 45 percent across-the-board tariff on Chinese goods with a view to leveling the playing field for American workers. He also accused China of manipulating its currency to gain an export advantage, a claim he has since dropped.

In a commentary widely cited in Chinese media on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency said if the talks went badly and a trade war did break out, China would hit back strongly. “China will inevitably suffer losses, but has the political advantage of a centralized and unified leadership and support of a massive domestic market,” it said.

China, which denies it forces technology transfers, has threatened various forms of retaliation, including tariffs on U.S. soybeans and aircraft.

U.S.-based trade analysts have said they expect Beijing to offer Trump’s team a package of policy changes that may include some previously announced moves, such as a phase-out of joint venture requirements for some sectors, autos tariff reductions and increased purchases of U.S. goods.

Trump had previously demanded a $100 billion annual reduction in the $375 billion U.S. goods trade deficit with China.