There are fresh developments related to the US-China trade war, according to reports on January 7th.
A vice-ministerial delegation from the US arrived in Beijing and began the latest round of trade talks on January 7th. Reportedly, the talks will be conducted in different groups dealing with various non-tariff measures: intellectual property, agriculture and industrial business.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He attended the first day of the talks, citing anonymous sources and a photo seen by Bloomberg. Initially, the talks were to be attended by lower level representatives from the Chinese side.
The SCMP, however, reported that Liu He did not attend the first day of negotiations, but simply welcomed the US delegation.
The American delegation is being led by Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish.
The two sides have to meet a deadline of March 1 to reach a deal, or otherwise the US side may raise its 10% tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese goods to 25%.
On January 4th, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that the US delegation came to China “to have positive and constructive discussions with Chinese counterparts on implementing the important consensus reached by the Chinese and US presidents in Argentina.”
US President Donald Trump on January 6th said that trade talks with China were going well and “that weakness in the Chinese economy gave Beijing a reason to work toward a deal.”
“The China talks are going very well,” he said. “I really believe they want to make a deal.”
Trump said the U.S. tariffs had hurt China.
“I think China wants to get it resolved. Their economy’s not doing well,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I think that gives them a great incentive to negotiate.”
The SCMP cited Lawrence J. Lau, an economics professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and former member of China’s top political advisory body, who previously predicted the truce.
According to him the truce will lead to further de-escalation between the US and China several days before the visit of the US delegation was announced.
“I am pretty confident that they will come up with something,” Lau said. “There will be something concrete at the end … and if there’s a settlement, there shouldn’t be any [additional] tariffs.”
The SCMP reported that since the truce in November between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, “China has since made a number of concessions, including rolling back additional tariffs on US car imports, resuming purchases of US soybeans, downplaying its “Made in China 2025” strategy, and proposing amendments to the foreign investment law that will make it illegal to force technology transfers to Chinese partners.”
Amid the optimistic talks of a de-escalation in terms of trade talks, a US guided-missile destroyer, the USS Campbell carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation ailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Island chain, “to challenge excessive maritime claims,” Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr said in an emailed statement.
The operation was not about any one country or to make a political statement, McMarr said.
Furthermore, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that the conduct of the US ship had violated Chinese and international law, and China had lodged “stern representations.”
“We urge the United States to immediately cease this kind of provocation,” he said, adding that China had sent military ships and aircraft to identify and warn off the ship. Asked if the timing of the operation would impede the trade talks, Lu said that “Both sides have the responsibility to create the necessary positive atmosphere for this.”
The situation in the trade talks is still developing, since they will also take place on January 8th, thus any progress will be reported in the near future.