China’s purchases of US agricultural products not linked to resumption of trade talks, ministry says
- Chinese companies have expressed interest in buying significant quantities, and have applied for exemptions from the tariffs imposed by Beijing
- Trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are set to meet Vice-Premier Liu He in Shanghai on Tuesday and Wednesday next week
China’s purchases of agricultural products from the United States have “no direct link” to the agreement to resume face-to-face trade talks next week in Shanghai, but rather reflects commercial decisions by individual Chinese buyers, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.
Next week’s 12th round of face-to-face talks in the year-long trade war follow the meeting between President Xi Jinping and US counterpart Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Japan at the end of June.
“The purchases are the companies’ own decisions, in accordance with market conditions,” Gao said. “Restarting the trade negotiations was an important consensus reached by the heads of China and the US during the meeting in Osaka [and] has no direct link with the commercial purchases.”
He added that switching the talks from Beijing was simply a “normal decision” because “Shanghai had good conditions for holding the trade talks”.
In other comments, Gao also said that the creation of China’s unreliable entity list was still going through “relevant procedures,” with details to be released “in the near future”.
China announced at the end of May that it would introduce a list for companies to be sanctioned for refusing to conduct business with Chinese firms for non-commercial reasons in response to the US Commerce Department placing telecommunications firm Huawei on its own entity list.
This move effectively banned US firms from selling components and equipment to the Chinese firm, although the US has since indicated that it will relax the restrictions on sales to Huawei, but has not provided details since Trump floated the idea at the G20 summit.
Gao argued the regrettable move represented a typical double standard, with Washington refusing necessary intellectual-property protection for Chinese companies in the US, but also asking for China to strengthen its protection of US firms in China.
He repeated Beijing’s call for the US government to carry out its promises and stop its practise of using state power to suppress Chinese enterprises.
Earlier this week, Washington also placed leading Chinese oil importer Zhuhai Zhenrong on its entity list for violating US sanctions on Iran.
The US efforts to contain Chinese companies, combined with the exodus of manufacturers from China due to the impact of US tariffs, have added to concerns that a major decoupling is underway between the world’s two largest economies.
“The decoupling between China and the US is unimaginable, and we believe that different sectors in the US do not want to see it either,” Gao said.
Gao also blamed Washington for undermining the confidence of companies from China and elsewhere, resulting in a sharp decline in Chinese investment in the US this year.
According to Gao, the US has used national security concerns as an excuse to tighten reviews on Chinese investment, and arbitrarily expanded the scope of the reviews, thereby restricting investment from China.
“There is no essential difference between China’s investment in the US and that of other countries,” Gao said. “All stick to market principles and international common practise …[and] are responsible investors.”