Thu, Jul 11, 2019 - Page 1 News List

US, China trade envoys make first contact since truce


The US stance on Hong Kong’s protests, arms sales to Taiwan and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s (華為) fate are among issues in play alongside trade as the US and China resume talks.

The US agreed to tone down criticism of Chinese rule in Hong Kong to restart the talks, the Financial Times reported yesterday.

That concession to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) contrasts with the continued restrictions on Huawei, which US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Tuesday said is still on the “entity list” limiting its access to US goods and services.

The telephone call between the two sides on Tuesday was the first confirmed contact since Xi and US President Donald Trump agreed to resume talks last month.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin spoke with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴) and Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan (鍾山), according to an e-mailed statement from a US government official who declined to be named.

Both sides are to continue the talks as appropriate, the official said, without offering more details on the next steps.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce confirmed the conversation in a brief statement yesterday morning, saying the two sides “exchanged opinions on implementing the consensus reached in Osaka” by Xi and Trump.

The announcement came after China criticized the US and its officials this week for agreeing to sell arms to Taiwan and for meeting with a Hong Kong newspaper publisher who is an outspoken critic of Chinese rule.

US National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow called the phone discussion “constructive” and said officials are planning more meetings, but that no details have been confirmed.

The US officials are to continue to speak with their Chinese counterparts on trade issues and perhaps make a trip there “shortly,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters.

Earlier on Tuesday, Kudlow told an event in Washington that the US government would ease restrictions on Huawei by relaxing licensing requirements from the commerce department.

Xi had agreed with Trump to scale up purchases of US products, including soybeans and wheat, along with possibly energy, as part of a “good-faith” move to show how open China is to resolving trade differences, he added.

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