China, US resume trade talks amid Trump’s 'rip-off' accusation
China and the United States kicked off a new round of trade talks in Shanghai on Wednesday following a hiatus of almost three months, amid renewed accusations from president Donald Trump that Beijing continues to “rip off” the US.
US delegates including treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer started talks with their Chinese counterparts including vice premier Liu He on Wednesday morning at the Xijiao State Guest Hotel, a leafy compound of luxury reception buildings and accommodation in the west of the port city, according to a pool report.
Mnuchin, Lighthizer and Liu appeared together for photographers. The Chinese side of the negotiating table contained six members in total; the US side had five, according to the report.
“Based on what I know the atmosphere is good,” Global Times’ editor-in-chief Hu Xijin says in tweet, without citing any sources.
The Americans arrived in Shanghai on Tuesday and attended a dinner at the Fairmont Peace Hotel in the evening. A person familiar with the event described the atmosphere at the dinner as being all about rapport building without substance on negotiations.
Just as the dinner started, Trump released a series of tweets lashing out at China for what he said is its unwillingness to buy American agricultural products and said it continues to “rip off” the US.
The People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Communist Party, responded on Wednesday with a commentary saying that China has no motive to “rip off” the US and has never done so, and China won’t make concessions against its principles on trade.
Expectations for a breakthrough in the trade talks have been low. The two sides are further apart than they were three months ago, when negotiations broke down and each side blamed the other for derailing attempts to reach a deal.
China is pushing for compromise in the talks, with state media underlining this week that the US should meet it “halfway.”
Data released on Wednesday showed the outlook for China’s manufacturing sector brightening slightly, though the sector is still contracting. The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 49.7 in July, led by better conditions for large companies. The below-50 reading still signals contraction, though is better than the median estimate of 49.6 in a survey of economists. The non-manufacturing gauge fell to 53.7.
China’s leadership on Tuesday announced priorities for economic policy in the second half of the year, pledging to tackle ongoing tensions over trade “effectively” while offering incremental additions to stimulus policies. A statement released by the Politburo late on Tuesday didn’t elaborate on the trade policies.
At the Fairmont Peace Hotel, US delegates were hosted at a dinner at the landmark of jazz-era Shanghai on the city’s riverside Bund, in a marked change of atmosphere from the previous Beijing encounters.
Shanghai is mainland China’s financial capital and its busiest port. The Peace Hotel’s setting in the former International Settlement, which the US helped manage during a period of foreign interference that the Communist Party has vowed never to repeat, is also freighted with the complicated history of America’s relationship with China.
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