China-US relations

China ‘doesn’t want a trade war’ with US, as sides agree to more talks in Beijing soon

Two sides remain committed to cooperation rather than conflict to resolve issues, state media reports

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2018, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 1:07pm

China said on Sunday that it did not want a trade war with the US but would not sit idly by and allow its interests to be hurt, after the two sides agreed to hold further talks on the issue in Beijing soon.

“The right way to handle conflicts is to open markets to both sides, make the pie of cooperation bigger and find solutions acceptable to both sides,” Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, said ahead of the annual “Two Sessions” in the Chinese capital.

After President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser Liu He wrapped up his five-day visit to Washington, Chinese state media reported on Saturday that the two countries had made some progress on the issue.

The trip was “helpful to mutual understanding and promoting cooperation”, Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said, without giving a time frame for the next round of talks or saying who would be involved.

Liu, who is director of the General Office of the Central Leading Group for the Financial and Economic Affairs, held “candid and constructive” talks with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the report said.

Liu was quoted as saying that it was in the interests of both sides to maintain a stable relationship on trade, which would also benefit the global economy.

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He also voiced Beijing’s views on issues such as the trade balance and market access, and said China would continue with its policy of reform and opening up.

“The two sides agreed they should take a cooperative rather than confrontational approach to tackling economic and trade conflicts to maintain the healthy development of economic and trade relations,” the report said.

“Both countries agreed to continue communication on related issues in the near future in Beijing, to create the conditions for further cooperation.”

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Liu, who also leads the Chinese side in the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, was the second member of the Politburo to travel to Washington in less than a month, after Yang Jiechi, the country’s top diplomat, visited earlier in February. Neither trip achieved a significant breakthrough on trade tensions, and concerns remain that a trade war could be imminent.

As part of his pledge to revamp US trade policy, President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would impose a 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 per cent tariff on aluminium product imports from countries including China from next week. The move triggered strong protests from many countries, including members of the European Union and Canada.

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Wang Yi, China’s foreign affairs minister, said on Saturday that the US’ decision to impose tariffs on “reasonable steel and aluminium exports in the name of harming national security is groundless”, China Business Journal reported.

Trump is expected in the coming weeks to announce the findings of a Section 301 investigation into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property and its broader industrial policy. The findings could result in the US imposing further tariffs and investment access restrictions on China’s goods and companies.