US and China ‘aim to solve trade war by time Donald Trump and Xi Jinping meet at G20 in November’

‘The Wall Street Journal’ said a road map for further talks would be developed by midlevel Chinese and US officials starting next week

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 August, 2018, 5:50am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 August, 2018, 7:05am

China and the US hope to solve their bitter trade war before their leaders take part in an expected meeting at the G20 summit in November, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, are scheduled to attend the multilateral summit in Argentina, which begins on November 30, raising hopes that the two countries might find a solution to end the dispute by the end of the year. The two have not met since late 2017.

Beijing announced on Thursday that Commerce Vice-Minister Wang Shouwen will visit Washington next week to restart bilateral talks, which have been suspended since June.

The Journal said Wang’s meeting with Treasury undersecretary David Malpass on August 22 and 23 would pave way for higher-level talks – even set the stage for the expected November meeting between Trump and Xi.

The US Treasury Department did not respond to a request for comment. The Journal’s report cited unnamed officials from both nations.

Analysts said that given the choice of Wang and his US counterpart, who were relatively junior officials, further preparations would be necessary to ensure that a possible Xi-Trump meeting could go ahead.

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Cheng Li, a China expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said Xi, who has been under immense domestic pressure over the rapidly deteriorating ties with the US, was more willing to return to the negotiating table than Trump.

High-level talks between Beijing and Washington have been on hold since US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross went to Beijing in early June, Chinese diplomats said.

Ross’s visit, as well as previous Washington trips by Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, who is XI’s top economic adviser, failed to prevent trade friction from escalating into an all-out trade war amid growing animosity.

Trump is continuing to put pressure on Beijing.

“We’re talking to China, they very much want to talk,” Trump said on Thursday during a cabinet meeting at the White House.

“They just are not able to give us an agreement that is acceptable, so we’re not going to do any deal until we get one that’s fair to our country.”

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Apart from the G20 summit, which begins on November 30, there is another multilateral meeting that month – the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Papua New Guinea.

Trump and Xi both attended last year’s Apec summit in Vietnam, but analysts said it was unlikely that both leaders, particularly Trump, would attend the gathering in the small island nation in the middle of Southwestern Pacific on November 18.