Sun, Apr 02, 2017 - Page 1 News List

China downplays tensions with US ahead of meeting


Beijing on Friday sought to play down tensions with the US and put on a positive face, as the US administration slammed China on a range of business issues ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) first meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Trump set the tone for what could be a tense meeting at his Mar-a-Lago retreat next week by tweeting on Thursday that the US could no longer tolerate massive trade deficits and job losses.

Trump said the highly anticipated meeting, which is also expected to cover differences over North Korea and China’s strategic ambitions in the South China Sea, “will be a very difficult one.”

Ahead of the meeting, Trump on Friday signed executive orders aimed at identifying abuses that are causing massive US trade deficits and clamping down on non-payment of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports, his top trade officials said.

Separately, the US Trade Representative’s office, which is controlled by the White House, said Beijing’s industrial policies and financial support for industries, such as steel and aluminum, have resulted in over-production and a flood of exports that have distorted global markets and undermined competitive companies.

Seeking to downplay the rift, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) reiterated a desire for cooperation on trade.

“With regard to the problems existing between China and the US in trade relations, both sides should in a mutual respectful and mutually beneficial way find appropriate resolutions, and ensure the stable development of Sino-US trade relations,” he told a daily news conference.

The leaders of the world’s two largest economies are scheduled to meet on Thursday and Friday next week for the first time since Trump assumed office on Jan. 20.

The US has “serious concerns” on the US trade relationship with China, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

“This isn’t a sit around and play patty-cake kind of conversation,” he told reporters. “They’re big issues.”

Trump “wants to have a very good and respectful and healthy relationship, but he also wants to make sure that he tackles the challenges and the problems that are facing American workers,” Spicer said.

Speaking earlier at a briefing on the Xi-Trump meeting, Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zheng Zeguang (鄭澤光) acknowledged the trade imbalance, but said it was mostly due to differences in their two economic structures and said that China had a trade deficit in services.

“China does not deliberately seek a trade surplus. We also have no intention of carrying out competitive currency devaluation to stimulate exports. This is not our policy,” Zheng said.

Xinhua news agency also struck a conciliatory tone.

“Of course, it would be naive to believe that the two sides can bridge their differences in a single diplomatic meeting,” it said on Friday in an English language commentary.

“Yet as long as the two nations can maintain their good faith, which they have shown recently, to talk and to make concessions based on mutual respect, then no difference would be too difficult to iron out,” it said.

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