Beijing tells Washington to be less ‘erratic’ on trade war as Xi-Trump meeting nears

  • US must change its mindset and behaviour model to … normalise bilateral trade relations, Xinhua editorial says
  • US leaders’ negative comments have ‘neglected rules and caused confusion’, it says
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2018, 6:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2018, 11:23pm

The United States has been erratic and vague in talking to China and should change its style to de-escalate trade tensions, Xinhua said in an editorial on Wednesday.

China has always treated US concerns with the “utmost patience and sincerity” and put “practical solutions” on the table to avoid trade frictions, the article said. But Washington has been unpredictable and refused to endorse a line that “neither side wants to fight a trade war”, it said.

“The US must change its mindset and behaviour model to … normalise bilateral trade relations” and “must change its stance and return to the negotiation table with equal conditions”, it said.

The editorial was published a month before the scheduled meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Xi Jinping, Donald Trump agree to talks at G20 summit next month, source says

As the South China Morning Post reported earlier, the summit is set to take place on November 29 and will be the first face-to-face meeting between Trump and Xi in nearly a year.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He said in an interview with state media last week that Beijing and Washington were in contact over trade issues, though he fell short of giving details.

At the same time, the US and China continued pointing fingers at each other over the lack of progress in reaching a truce in the trade war.

Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic adviser, told reporters on Tuesday that Trump and Xi “will meet for a bit”, but did not provide details. The US had made its requests but China had yet to respond, he said.

“Our asks are on the table; I’d love to see them respond,” Kudlow said. “Thus far they haven’t.”

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that “the ball’s in China’s court” in terms of reaching a trade deal between the two countries. His comments came two days after he told the Financial Times that Beijing had offered no sign that it was willing to meet US demands in a way that could defuse tensions.

Kudlow was quoted as saying that the US had given China “a detailed list of asks” but “the problem with the story is that they don’t respond. Nothing. Nada”.

Meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump would play ‘key role’ in easing tensions

Tensions remain high between the two countries. US media platform Axios on Monday cited three unidentified sources as saying Trump had no intention of easing his tariffs on China and wanted Chinese leaders “to feel more pain”.

The US has so far imposed tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods, roughly half the value of all Chinese goods sold to the United States last year. For the last batch of US$200 billion in Chinese imports targeted, the tariff rate will increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent in January if Beijing does not make concessions.

Trade war: how will Donald Trump’s tariffs on US$200 billion of goods affect China’s GDP?

Beijing has retaliated with 25 per cent tariffs on the first US$50 billion worth of US imports to China and covered another US$60 billion of US imports with tariff rates of 5 to 10 per cent.

The Xinhua editorial said recent “negative” comments by US leaders, without naming anyone, had “neglected rules and caused confusion”. “This won’t help to solve Sino-US trade issues,” it said.

The United States’ unilateral trade policy was eroding its credibility and posed a risk to the world economy, it said.