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Presidents Xi Jinping (left) and Donald Trump (right) meet during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in December, and are set to talk again in Osaka. Photo: AP

China and US must both compromise at Xi-Trump meeting, Beijing negotiator says

  • Beijing should not be only side to make concessions when presidents meet in Osaka, Wang Shouwen says
  • Chinese foreign ministry accuses US of indulging in ‘fool’s talk’ amid reports Trump is planning further restrictions on Chinese tech firms

A member of China’s trade negotiation team has said both Beijing and Washington will need to compromise if they are to reach a trade deal when presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump meet during the G20 summit in Osaka later this week.

Vice-Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen, a top deputy in the negotiation team, laid out China’s position ahead of the talks between the two leaders, suggesting that Beijing should not be the only side to make concessions in efforts to end the year-long trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

“We should meet each other halfway, which means that both sides will need to compromise and make concessions, and not just one side,” Wang said during a press briefing in Beijing on Monday.

Wang said that to reach a trade deal, both sides should negotiate on the basis of equality, respect each other’s sovereignty and World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, and benefit both sides. The countries are locked in disputes over issues including trade and security.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry in Beijing hit out at Washington’s “fool’s talk” following reports that the Trump administration was planning further measures to freeze Chinese firms out of the US 5G supply chain, saying it was suffering from a “self-made panic”.

Xi will travel to Japan on Thursday and is expected to meet Trump on the sidelines of the gathering of leading and emerging economies, which takes place on Friday and Saturday.

The pair held a phone call last week. Trump tweeted after the call that they “had a very good telephone conversation” and would be having an “extended meeting” at the G20 summit.

The South China Morning Post reported last week that trade negotiators from China and the United States – the former led by Vice-Premier Liu He and the latter by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – could meet in Osaka as early as Tuesday.

On Friday, US Vice-President Mike Pence called off a planned speech that was expected to criticise China’s human rights record, to prevent further tensions ahead of the planned meeting of Xi and Trump, a White House official said, citing “progress in conversations” between the two leaders.
However, Washington has stepped up pressure on other fronts. Last week, the US State Department released its 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom, again criticising China for “staggering scope of religious freedom abuses in Xinjiang”.

“In Xinjiang province in particular, the mass detainment of more than 1 million Chinese Muslims is an outright atrocity,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Also last week, the US Commerce Department said it had added five Chinese firms that manufacture supercomputers and their components to its entity list, restricting their ability to do business with US companies.


The blacklist effectively bars American firms from selling technology to the Chinese organisations without government approval. Last month, the Commerce Department added telecoms maker Huawei to the list, heightening tensions with Beijing.

At the press conference on Monday, Wang called on the Trump administration to remove the ban, and to ensure equal treatment for Chinese companies.

“The US’ restriction of its own exports will not do any good to the trade balance [between China and the US],” Wang said. “It will hurt both Chinese and American companies, as well as disrupting the international trade order and technology exchange.


“We hope the US side can … cancel these unilateral measures that target Chinese companies, and remove them.”

Wang also called for the rest of the G20 countries to “take actions” to oppose what China sees as a rise of “unilateralism” and “protectionism”, an indirect swipe at Trump’s emphasis on putting “America first”.

According to Chinese officials at the press conference, Xi will hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Osaka summit, during which the trio will “coordinate” on their positions on major world issues.


The officials said Xi would also meet leaders from member countries of BRICS – the association of emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Trump is also looking into proposals that require 5G cellular equipment used in the US to be designed and manufactured outside China, according to a Wall Street Journal report, citing unnamed sources.

US officials have asked telecom equipment makers if they can develop hardware and software outside China, the report said.

Trump and Xi are set to meet face-to-face at the G20 summit in Osaka. Photo: Bloomberg

When asked about the report on Monday foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused the Americans of “living in a self-made panic” and being “extremely nervous for no reason”.


“In an era of globalisation … a country tries to find absolute ‘security’ and ‘control’ through isolation and fragmentation, which is a fool’s talk,” Geng added.

Separately, Geng also urged Fedex to give a reasonable explanation and take responsibility after the US courier service company admitted that it had refused to deliver a Huawei phone from the UK to the US last week,the second time such an incident has occurred in recent weeks.

The spokesman, however, declined to comment on whether Fedex would be added to China’s list of “unreliable entities” a measure proposed late last month by the commerce ministry to restrict foreign entities or individuals that boycott or cut off supplies to Chinese companies for non-commercial purposes.

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Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University of China, said neither president was likely to feel a sense of urgency about reaching a deal in Japan.

“Both of them seem to have the political will to ensure that no deal is better than a bad deal,” Shi, an adviser to China’s State Council, said.

He said China’s demand that any trade deal should be compatible with WTO rules included “compatibility with WTO leniency or preferences granted to China as a developing nation”. Various US demands during the trade war had ignored this rule, he said.

Tao Wenzhao, a researcher with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Washington was acting against the WTO’s ethos by demanding that China reduce its trade surplus with the US in a limited time. “The WTO said world trade should be open and free,” Tao said. “It won’t be free if it is arranged by government.”

Additional reporting by Lu Zhenhua

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This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Both sides urged to compromise at Xi-Trump meeting