Chinese officials open to talks with US counterparts but prepared for prolonged battle: analysts

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/8 22:58:41

China open to talks, but US still intransigent: analysts


Workers wait to unload products at a port in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, on Thursday. Photo: VCG


Chinese officials are open for talks with their US counterparts to end the ongoing trade war, but they are also aware that fundamental differences between the two countries are not likely to be solved anytime soon and they are preparing for a prolonged battle, analysts said on Thursday.

Following months of stalled talks, recent developments in high-level exchanges have prompted suggestions that the world's two largest economies could soon end the trade war. But Chinese analysts believe that such suggestions are over-optimistic and that the trade war will continue as the US is unlikely to change its bullying tactics.

The positive momentum started on November 1, when Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with his US counterpart Donald Trump over the phone about major issues, with a heavy focus on economic and trade matters.

During the phone call, which came at the invitation of Trump, both leaders agreed that trade officials on both sides should strengthen contact with each other and conduct consultations on issues of mutual concern in a bid to reach an arrangement on trade issues "that is acceptable to both sides," Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a press briefing on Tuesday.

In a Tweet following the conversation, Trump said that "discussions are moving along nicely with meetings being scheduled at the G20 in Argentina."

The two presidents are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit, which will be held in Argentina from November 30 to December 1.

After the phone conversation, Trump asked his cabinet to start drafting potential trade deals with China, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing several unnamed sources.

Comments from Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan added to the positive mood this week. Speaking at an event in Singapore on Tuesday, Wang said that China is ready to have talks with the US over trade.

But he echoed earlier official comments from the foreign ministry that the solution needs to be "acceptable to both sides."

Just talks, no deal

"There have been some positive developments considering there have been no substantial talks between officials, at least at the senior level, for months," Bai Ming, deputy director of the International Market Research Institute under the Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times on Thursday.

However, the fundamental differences between China and the US over the trade dispute will not be addressed immediately, he said.

Bai pointed out that there have been multiple occasions when the two sides agreed to resolve trade disputes through dialogue, including the meeting of the two leaders in Florida, as well as Trump's visit to China last November and a joint statement in May when the two countries agreed to end the trade tension.

"But all these agreements led nowhere because the US backed out of their promises every time," Bai said. "China has been very clear from the beginning that we are always open for dialogue, but we are not going to give up our core interests just for the sake of a deal."

Wang Jun, deputy director of the Department of Information at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said that given the slim chances of reaching a resolution, Chinese officials are prepared for a prolonged trade war.

"Chinese officials are aware that we might be in this fight for a while and they are preparing for all possible scenarios," Wang told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that China has been expanding its sources of imports through the ongoing China International Import Expo, as well as supporting high-tech industries and ensuring stable growth at home.

"We need to improve our economy through reforms and opening-up and through our research and development capabilities even without the trade war. The trade war just made it a more urgent task," Bai added.

Newspaper headline: No trade deal soon


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