Chinese, US officials hold phone talks as Washington eases Huawei ban

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/10 11:39:38

Top Chinese and US officials spoke on the phone Tuesday night, as the US government moves to relax its ban on Chinese telecom firm Huawei, in an apparent move to ease tensions and revive trade negotiations to resolve a bitter trade tussle.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who is also chief of the Chinese side of the China-US comprehensive economic dialogue, spoke with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a statement on Wednesday morning. 

During the phone call, the two sides exchanged views on how to implement the consensus reached by the countries' respective leaders at a meeting in Japan at the end of June, according to the statement. It added that Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan also took part in the phone conversation.

It was the first time Chinese officials released an official statement about high-level discussions between the two sides since the two countries reached a truce in late June.

During a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan, President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump agreed to hold off additional tariffs and resume trade negotiations. 

While Chinese officials said that the two sides have maintained contact since the leaders' meeting in Japan, details of what have been discussed during these contacts remain elusive. Also unclear is if and when the two sides are planning to hold a face-to-face meeting.

But in a positive turn, the US Department of Commerce on Tuesday moved to allow some US companies to resume sales of US-made products to Huawei if those goods are deemed to pose no threat to US national security, following through on an earlier pledge from Trump.

Though the US' move on Huawei is seen as a goodwill gesture in China, Chinese analysts said it was not sufficient evidence of the US' sincerity in the trade negotiations. 

"The US has shown some [good faith], but judging from the content [of the move], it is far from sincere," Bai Ming, deputy director of the MOFCOM's International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "I hope this will translate into concrete actions that help address the trade tension."

Thus far, it is unknown which products could pass national security assessment with no clear standards. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also made clear that Huawei remains in the US' "Entity List."

Though Huawei's case is not a precondition for resuming trade negotiations, the Chinese side will likely insist that the US remove Huawei, a leading firm in global 5G technology, from its blacklist, according to a Beijing-based trade analyst Arthur Lee.

Lee said that though the US side is under growing pressure and eager to reach a trade deal with China, as a protracted trade war is not helping Trump's reelection campaign, "Beijing should be vigilant and not have high expectations for talks led by the USTR because it has frequently backtracked over the past year."

Nonetheless, the renewal of talks between the world's two biggest economies has boosted global stock markets. Following Tuesday's call, Chinese mainland stocks opened slightly higher on Wednesday morning, with the Shanghai Composite Index up 0.24 percent and the smaller Shenzhen Component Index up 0.36 percent.

Posted in: ECONOMY

blog comments powered by Disqus