Trump Pleased, Beijing Cautiously Optimistic
WASHINGTON, DC – February 25, 2019
Beijing and Washington do not have time to finally agree on the terms of the new trade agreement by March 1. President Trump announced the extension of negotiations and his meeting with President Xi Jinping in March, when the final details of the arrangement will be agreed upon. China has already agreed to expand imports of American agricultural products.
Chinese state media reacted with cautious optimism to this latest development in the US-China trade talks.
Commentaries from top Communist Party mouthpieces like the People’s Daily newspaper and state news agency Xinhua said the just-concluded round of talks in Washington sent a cautiously positive sign for a settlement to the friction between the world’s two biggest economies, but also cautioned that any final deal would face criticism both within China and the US.
Trump said late on Sunday that he would delay the application of additional tariffs on Chinese imports, citing “substantial progress” in the talks with China’s team led by Vice-Premier Liu He.
“I am pleased to report that the US has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues,” Trump said in a tweet.
Xinhua said both countries had achieved “substantial progress” on issues including technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, services, agriculture and currency.
“From extending the seventh round of trade talks by two days, to the US postponement of raising tariffs against Chinese imports, the [outcome] suggests both sides’ sincerity, emphasis and sense of urgency to reach a deal as soon as possible,” a Xinhua commentary read.
“But they also underscore more time is needed for both sides to overcome differences in the critical stage of the negotiations.”
In an influential social media blog on Monday, Liu Hong, deputy editor of Xinhua’s Globe magazine, said Xinhua’s terse report and Trump’s tweets together suggested the trade talks had made huge inroads in many respects.
“Of course, just like the US, China is also a pluralistic society with different views,” Liu wrote. “[The agreement] may upset people whose interests are affected. We should be patient and provide guidance over any misunderstandings, worries and even criticism.”
Liu also said that, despite differences between Trump and his chief trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer on the respective merits of any memorandum of understanding or trade agreement reached with the Chinese side, Beijing would probably see them as the “same texts” of the deal.
In early December, Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to take measures within three months to conclude a trade agreement between the two countries at a meeting in Argentina. The US president said that he agreed on January 1 not to raise tariffs from 10% to 25% for Chinese products totaling $200 billion as he had earlier planned. The term of the deal expires on March 1, but Trump expressed his willingness not to raise duties until the negotiations are successful and in the right direction for Washington.