China media lauds truce but questions linger

The front page of a newspaper in Beijing yesterday, featuring US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. While welcoming the truce, the Chinese media warned that trade remained a complex issue.
The front page of a newspaper in Beijing yesterday, featuring US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. While welcoming the truce, the Chinese media warned that trade remained a complex issue. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIJING • The trade war truce agreed by China and the United States at the weekend could help them resolve their differences amicably, but lasting improvements in relations will depend on US "sincerity", Chinese state media said yesterday.

In a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump in Argentina last Saturday, the US agreed not to raise tariffs further on Jan 1, while China agreed to purchase agricultural products from US farmers. The two sides also agreed to begin discussions on how to resolve issues like intellectual property protection, non-tariff trade barriers and cybertheft.

In an editorial, the official China Daily warned that while the new "consensus" was a welcome development and gave both sides "breathing space" to resolve their differences, there was no "magic wand" that would allow the grievances to disappear immediately.

"The fact that the two leaders could sit down for candid talks and agree to avoid the looming escalation of trade tariffs to allow for continuing trade negotiations shows that both sides are aware of how damaging they would be, not just to each other but the global economy as a whole.

"But given the complexity of interactions between the two economies, the rest of the world will still be holding its collective breath," it said.

"China has said that it will work to resolve the US' rational concerns - and it has backed up its words with actions by agreeing to expand US imports - but a lasting improvement in bilateral relations is still dependent on the sincerity of the US to engage in equal-footed consultations with China, bearing in mind the reality of China's situation," it said.

In a separate editorial published late on Sunday, China's state news agency Xinhua said the new consensus "demonstrates that as long as the two sides have sincerity, there is a way out".

 
 

It called on both sides to "take immediate steps" to address concerns and bring trade and economic relations back to normal but warned that there was still "a long way ahead before anything of substance can be achieved".

The widely-read Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said the agreement "enables Chinese people to realise that the two countries can still find common ground despite differences".

"The US needs to maintain a large volume of imports to sustain its economy. China's strategy of deepening reform and opening-up requires it to lower the market threshold and protect intellectual property rights. The needs of the two sides do not stand in each other's way and a trade war is not a viable option."

It also warned that people had to have realistic expectations.

"The Chinese public needs to keep in mind that China-US trade negotiations fluctuate. China's reform and opening-up's broad perspective recognises that the rest of the world does things differently," it said in its editorial.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2018, with the headline 'China media lauds truce but questions linger'. Print Edition | Subscribe