Mar 04, 2018 06:29 PM

China, U.S. Said to Agree to Meet in Beijing to Address Trade Tensions

Following a visit to the U.S. by Chinese President Xi Jinping's top economic advisor, representatives from China and the United States have agreed to meet in Beijing to address bilateral trade imbalances.

No details were given on when the meeting will be held or who will attend, in the announcement by Zhang Yesui, spokesman for China’s top legislature and ambassador to the U.S. from 2009 to 2012.

Zhang said that friction in Sino-U.S. trade is unsurprising given the staggering volume of bilateral trade, which stood at $580 billion at the end of last year.

While he sought to play down heightened trade tension between the world’s two major powers over recent months, Zhang said China has no intention of fighting a trade war with the United States. “But we’re by no means going to sit idle if Chinese interests are harmed,” he told a news conference in Beijing Sunday.

Thousands of Chinese delegates will begin meeting in Beijing on Monday for the annual session of country’s top legislature, which will stretch for 16 days this year.

Zhang’s comments follow a high-profile visit to the U.S. last week by Liu He, the top economic advisor to present Xi Jinping, apparently aimed at defusing tensions surrounding bilateral trade disputes.

During meetings with U.S. trade officials, Liu proposed a preliminary framework for further talks and cooperation, a Chinese source with knowledge of his visit told Caixin.

“The countries have reached consensus to tackle trade imbalances,” said the source, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak on the matter. “The next step both sides will take is to work out specific details to address the issues, and we’ve sent out an invitation,” he said.

Liu, who is on the 25-member Politburo, a key decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party, also serves as director of the powerful Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs.

In a flurry of meetings, Liu met with several top business executives and U.S. officials, including Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin; Gary Cohn, chief economic advisor to president Trump and director of the U.S. National Economic Council; and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

In a meeting Thursday with representatives from the American steel and aluminum industries, President Trump pledged to slap 25% import tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminum next week, citing national security concerns.

The move followed a preliminary finding in August by the U.S. Department of Commerce that accused Chinese exporters of receiving government subsidies of up to 80%, and of selling products at unfairly low prices.

Steel and aluminum imports into the United States are mostly used to produce low- and medium-tech products for civilian consumers, posing no harm to U.S. national security, according to Wang Hejun, head of the Remedy and Investigation Bureau of China’s Ministry of Commerce.

The move to limit steel and aluminum imports by the Trump administration would do a great disservice to multilateral trade mechanisms — such as those set up by the World Trade Organization — and deal a severe blow to existing order in international trade, Wang said.

The unreasonable and excessive use of trade-remedy measures by the Trump administration will not help revitalize relevant industries in the U.S., said China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying, citing Wang.

“Rather, it will affect employment and jeopardize the welfare of American consumers,” she said, adding that “China will take necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.”

Contact reporter Li Rongde (

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