China's response to US trade talks shows extent of gap between them

BEIJING • The US and China are still far apart on economic and trade issues, with recent statements from both sides showing just how big that gap remains.

China's ambassador to Washington Qin Gang said over the weekend that Beijing wants the United States to stop restrictions and sanctions against its firms, outlining some of Beijing's demands for future talks. That was in response to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai's comments before her call with Vice-Premier Liu He, in which the US raised concerns about China's state-led support for businesses.

Beijing wants the US to rectify problems such as the growing difficulty Chinese firms have investing or listing in the US and the restrictions placed on more than 900 Chinese entities, Mr Qin told Phoenix TV. In particular, restrictions due to "national security" are unfair, he said, warning of serious consequences.

The US is still ramping up restrictions and enforcement on Chinese firms, recently suspending new initial public offerings of China-based companies and demanding that those already listed in the US submit to more scrutiny or face being delisted.

On the trade deal signed last year, the two sides have opposing views on whether China is living up to its end of the bargain. The deal called for Beijing to make changes to regulations on intellectual property and other areas, and had specific targets for Chinese purchases of US goods.

Mr Qin rejected accusations that China has failed to adhere to the agreement, arguing that the country has made tangible steps as well as sincerely and steadily implemented the accord.

Ms Tai said the US would work to enforce China's commitments in the trade deal.

In her call with Mr Liu, Ms Tai "emphasised US concerns relating to China's state-led, non-market policies and practices that harm American workers, farmers and businesses". But there was no sign that China is willing to make changes. The topic was not in China's statement on the call, which instead said Mr Liu made clear Beijing's position "on issues including China's economic development model and industry policies", and asked the US to get rid of all the tariffs and sanctions.

Washington, in turn, did not mention discussing dropping tariffs in its statement. While the US said it would start a new process to exclude some imports from being subjected to duties, there was no indication it plans to permanently lift any of the other taxes on Chinese goods.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2021, with the headline 'China's response to US trade talks shows extent of gap between them'. Subscribe