Trade talks between U.S. and China aim to 'level playing field'

China's government won't accept any USA preconditions for negotiations such as abandoning its long-term advanced manufacturing ambitions or narrowing the trade gap by $100 billion, a senior government official, who asked not to be named, said late Wednesday.

A high-level trade delegation from the United States arrived in Beijing Thursday to hold talks with Chinese officials on trade policies.

The official China Daily said in an editorial that China would "stand up to the US' bullying as necessary". "We need to understand each other's intentions first, and we need to sit down and talk".

The discussions are being led by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

Mr. Lighthizer laid out a long time frame in remarks before jetting off to Beijing. The Treasury is now developing United States investment restrictions on Chinese companies. China says it's not willing to back down on key issues or submit to any USA threats.

There are a number of reasons for tamped-down expectations from the talks. Second, the US hasn't put together its bottom-line expectations for China to head off tariffs and other restrictions threatened by the administration.

Former Iowa governor Branstad brings to the talks a longstanding relationship with China and a strong perspective on agriculture - a U.S. sector vulnerable to China's threatened tariff retaliation.

Chinese officials have promised to reduce a 25 percent tariff on imported foreign cars by 2022.

An urgent notice sent by the city of Changchun to surrounding areas called the expanded sowing "the most important political task" for local authorities.

US -based trade experts said they expected Beijing to offer Trump's team a package of policy changes that may include some previously announced moves, such as a phase-out of joint venture requirements for some sectors, autos tariff reductions and increased purchases of USA goods. Senior Chinese officials and their advisers spoke about economic policy at a three-day Tsinghua University seminar that ended on Monday.

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At the forum, Mr. Ning and others defended the government's support for companies to upgrade and move into higher-level manufacturing and industries of the future. Liu He, President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, is heading the Chinese side in the talks.

"If the US delegation comes to China believing Beijing's resolve to open wider to the outside world is a matter of expediency under pressure from Washington, it will likely mean a lot of time is wasted setting the record straight".

Since Trump's threat of further tariffs, Chinese officials have walked back, at least publicly, suggestions that they would cut a deal.

In early April, China announced tariffs on more than 100 US goods, including vehicles, plastic goods and agricultural products.

"It would be madness to let state capitalism come in and buy our technology and have that affect our economy going forward", said Mr. Lighthizer. It is also holding up approvals for multibillion-dollar takeover deals being pursued by USA firms including Qualcomm Inc. and Bain Capital.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who also are part of the U.S. delegation, on Tuesday both downplayed expectations for a major deal. But Branstad has vowed to support Trump's tougher approach to China on trade issues. Mnuchin and Kudlow are looking for a faster resolution of the market-rattling conflict, according to people tracking the negotiations. A lot of them insisted on anonymity for reasons of diplomatic sensitivity. Many economists argue tariffs, sure to elicit a Chinese backlash, would hit US consumers and may not change prevailing trade dynamics.

But after the first day of talks, it's so far, so good.

"Negotiating by committee is awfully hard", said Stefan Selig, the top worldwide economic official in the Obama Commerce Department.

Despite the huge US trade deficit, Chinese companies are struggling to overtake western industry leaders in advanced technologies for semiconductors, the silicon brains required to run smartphones, connected cars, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

It isn't clear whether the administration will adopt these ideas in whole, but they are the kinds of fundamental changes the seeking.

  • Adam Floyd