US-China talks end with terse response to Trump
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman accuses US of flip-flopping, as Shanghai trade talks wrap
SHANGHAI: Talks between US and Chinese trade officials seeking ways to end a year-long trade war lasted barely half a day before ending yesterday with a terse response from China's Foreign Ministry to US President Donald Trump.
As US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin landed in Shanghai on Tuesday, Mr Trump said on Twitter that China appeared to be backing off on a pledge to buy US farm goods. And he warned that if China stalled negotiations in the hope that he would not win re-election in 2020, the outcome will be worse for China.
"The problem with them waiting... is that if & when I win, the deal that they get will be much tougher than what we are negotiating now... or no deal at all."
This week's meetings, the first in-person trade talks since a G-20 truce last month, amounted to a working dinner on Tuesday at Shanghai's historic riverfront Fairmont Peace Hotel and a half-day of negotiations yesterday.
The trade war between the world's two largest economies has disrupted global supply chains and shaken financial markets as each side has slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's goods.
The Shanghai talks were expected to centre on "goodwill" gestures, such as Chinese commitments to purchase US agricultural commodities and steps by the US to ease some sanctions on Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei, a person familiar with the discussions told Reuters earlier.
Those issues are somewhat removed from the more core US complaints in the trade dispute, including Chinese state subsidies, forced technology transfers and intellectual property violations.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying, responding to a question about Mr Trump's tweets, said she was not aware of the latest developments during talks, but that it was clear it was the US who continued to "flip-flop".
"I believe it doesn't make any sense for the US to exercise its campaign of maximum pressure at this time. It is pointless to tell others to take medication when you are the one who is sick," Ms Hua told a news briefing.
Mr Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China's state-run Global Times tabloid, wrote on Twitter that the negotiators had "efficient and constructive" exchanges.
"The two sides discussed increasing purchase of US farm products and the US side agreed to create favourable conditions for it. They will hold future talks," Mr Hu said.
Earlier, the Global Times said if Washington still holds the illusion that Beijing will somehow cave in and compromise on issues concerning sovereignty, "then no deal is fine". - REUTERS
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