China yesterday said it wanted to avoid an escalation of trade tensions with the US, as the two sides held new talks and Beijing decided to lower some tariffs.
The overture came two days after the White House said that its planned trade sanctions against China were still in the works, despite the announcement of a truce following a previous round of talks last month.
China has threatened to hit back with tit-for-tat tariffs on tens of billions of dollars in US goods.
A 50-strong US delegation arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for follow-up meetings, Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng (高峰) said, without providing more details.
“We hope that China and US economic and trade cooperation can benefit people in both countries, and we are not willing to see trade frictions escalate,” Gao told a regular press briefing.
The delegation is laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s visit by US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
The US on Tuesday said that its sanctions announced in March — including restrictions on Chinese investment, export controls and 25 percent tariffs on as much as US$50 billion in Chinese tech exports — remain under development.
Gao slammed the proposal, saying that US measures to implement investment restrictions and export controls against China “do not conform with the basic principles and spirits of the WTO.”
“China will carefully evaluate the US measures and relevant impact, and retain its rights to adopt relative measures,” he said.
Separately, Beijing late on Wednesday announced in a statement that it would further cut import tariffs on daily consumer goods from July 1.
The average tariff on clothing, shoes and hats, kitchenware, and sports and fitness supplies is to be reduced from 15.9 to 7.1 percent.
The rate for home appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators would be lowered from 20.5 to 8 percent.
China is to also publish a “negative list” of foreign investment by June 30 to ease restrictions in fields including energy, resources, infrastructure and transportation, Gao said.
A negative list includes all the industries with foreign investment restrictions.
Beijing previously said that it would relax restrictions on foreign investment in automobiles, shipbuilding and aircraft firms.
At a meeting on Wednesday chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), the Chinese State Council also decided to widen market access through more foreign investor-friendly measures, Xinhua news agency reported.
“We should raise our innovation capacity in the new round of opening up and see that all intellectual property be fully protected,” Li said. “No forced technology transfer will ever be imposed on foreign-invested enterprises and IPR [intellectual property rights] infringements will be penalized to the full extent of the law.”
US President Donald Trump has accused China of forcing US firms to hand over their industrial secrets to Chinese firms to do business in the country, a charge that Beijing has rejected.
In other measures announced by Xinhua, overseas traders would be encouraged to participate in crude oil and iron ore futures trading.
It also reported that severe measures would be taken to punish infringements, counterfeiting, commercial secret violators and trademark squatters.
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