China says trade talks with US should be equal, mutually beneficial

Chinese Vice-Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen hoped that United States and China can find ways to manage their differences through dialogue.
Chinese Vice-Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen hoped that United States and China can find ways to manage their differences through dialogue.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - China said on Friday (Nov 23) it hopes US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping can find a solution to the trade war when they meet at the G-20 summit next week.

The talks in Argentina come as the two countries have failed to reach any agreement to resolve a dispute that escalated after Mr Trump slapped huge tariffs on Chinese goods, prompting tit-for-tat responses.

"We hope that both sides can work together on the basis of mutual respect, balance, honesty, and mutual benefit and finally find a solution to solve the problem," Mr Wang Shouwen, Chinese vice-minister of commerce, said at a press briefing in Beijing.

Mr Wang said global trade faces a "complex situation", with "unilateralism and protectionism on the rise", creating uncertainty for economic development.

China hopes the G-20 will uphold its backing of multilateralism at the summit, which will take place from Nov 30 to Dec 1 in Buenos Aires.

Beijing also backs reform of the World Trade Organisation to enhance its authority and effectiveness, he said.

Mr Trump said on Thursday he was "very prepared" for the meeting with Mr Xi.

Washington has threatened to toughen measures even further if the issue is not resolved before January.

"China wants to make a deal. If we can make a deal, we will," Mr Trump said.

The United States has imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese goods worth US$250 billion (S$343.18 billion) per year.

In retaliation, China imposed tariffs on US$110 billion of US goods.

Earlier this month, Mr Xi and Mr Trump discussed the US-China trade conflict, as well as North Korea's nuclear programme, during a phone conversation that Mr Trump called "very good".

Mr Xi said he was "very happy" to talk to Mr Trump again.

But tensions came to the fore again at an Apec summit last weekend, when Mr Xi and US Vice-President Mike Pence delivered competing speeches criticising each other's trade and investment practices.

Mr Xi lashed out at "America First" trade protectionism, while Mr Pence warned smaller countries not to be seduced by China's massive Belt and Road infrastructure programme.