China warns U.S. trade deals off if tariffs go ahead

Commerce Secretary To Press China To Buy As Allies Seethe Over Tariffs

At the talks in Beijing this weekend, "the two sides had good exchanges of views on implementing the consensus reached in Washington, particularly in the areas of agriculture and energy", Xinhua reported.

But state news agency Xinhua carried a statement which warned against a trade war and said the two sides should meet each other half way.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross leaves a hotel ahead of trade talks with Chinese officials in Beijing, June 2, 2018.

"Chinese officials know these talks are precarious, but may underestimate the domestic political cost Trump now sees in lifting the ZTE ban without major concessions from China", said Andrew Gilholm, the director of China analysis at Control Risks, a political and security consulting firm.

A short statement, carried by the official Xinhua news agency, made no mention of any specific new agreements after USA commerce secretary Wilbur Ross met Chinese vice premier Liu He.

Mnuchin, speaking at a G7 finance leaders meeting in Canada where he was the target of U.S. allies' anger over steel and aluminium tariffs, said the China talks would cover other issues, including the Trump administration's desire to eliminate Chinese joint venture requirements and other policies that effectively force technology transfers.

The planned USA trade sanctions on Beijing include restrictions on Chinese investment, export controls and 25% tariffs on $50 billion in tech goods.

China, it said, was willing to increase its quota of imports as it was part of the country's national strategy.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", Ross said, in brief comments to reporters.


Last month, they held talks in Washington and put out a joint statement. But the truce appeared to end with this week's announcement Washington was going ahead with tariff increases on technology goods and would also impose curbs on Chinese investment and purchases of United States hi-tech exports.

While the team may be inching toward technical agreement in that direction, the talks are overshadowed by the unpredictability of US policy in the wake of recent reversals that have seen tariffs placed on metals imports by allies.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the dispute was "on hold" and the tariff hike would be postponed.

"The Chinese side has realised that the U.S. has just delayed its trade actions rather than giving them up - but Beijing didn't expect a change of attitude so quickly".

Trade analysts feared that decision might alienate allies who share complaints about Chinese technology policy and a flood of low-cost steel, aluminum and other exports they say are the result of improper subsidies and hurt foreign competitors.

China has threatened to hit back with tit-for-tat tariffs on tens of billions of dollars in U.S. goods.

"There are structural changes that allow our companies to compete fairly".

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis raised the prospect of additional American steps against China if Beijing continues to intimidate nearby countries by putting weapons systems on man-made islands in the South China Sea.

All non-U.S. Group of Seven finance ministers expressed "disappointment" over Trump's decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum on Canada, the European Union and Mexico.

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