China's trade negotiator to have talks in US

Mr Liu He’s scheduled visit follows lower-level negotiations held in Beijing last week aimed at resolving a bitter trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
Mr Liu He’s scheduled visit follows lower-level negotiations held in Beijing last week aimed at resolving a bitter trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

BEIJING • China's top trade negotiator will travel to the United States for talks later this month ahead of a March deadline to avoid bruising tariff hikes.

The commerce ministry yesterday said Vice-Premier Liu He will visit Washington on Jan 30-31 for the negotiations, following up on talks between lower-level officials in Beijing earlier this month.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a three-month trade war truce in December, suspending US plans to raise tariffs on Chinese goods to let negotiators find a solution.

Mr Liu and US officials will "hold negotiations on economic and trade issues and work together to push forward and implement the important consensus" reached by Mr Xi and Mr Trump, ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters.

But Mr Liu's trip could run into complications after a Wednesday report said the US authorities were in the advanced stages of a criminal investigation that could result in an indictment of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Citing anonymous sources, the Wall Street Journal said the Department of Justice was looking into allegations of theft of trade secrets from Huawei's US business partners, including a T-Mobile robotic device used to test smartphones.

US lawmakers also introduced a Bill to ban the export of American parts and components to Chinese telecom companies which are in violation of US export control or sanctions laws - with Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE the likely targets.

 
 
 

China has blasted the US actions.

"The whole world is very clear that the real intention of the United States is to use every possible piece of state machinery to suppress and smear China's high-tech companies," said foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying.

The US lawmakers' actions reeked of "extreme arrogance", she said, adding: "The actions of the US are not the normal actions of a normal country, let alone the world's leading power."

Mr Liu will travel at the invitation of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Mr Gao said.

Washington has been clamouring for an end to the forced transfer - and even theft - of American technology, as well as steep government subsidies for Chinese companies. The Trump administration also wants Beijing to buy more American goods to narrow a yawning trade gap and allow foreign players better access to the Chinese market.

China's trade surplus with the US hit a record US$323.3 billion (S$438) last year, Chinese Customs data showed on Monday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2019, with the headline 'China's trade negotiator to have talks in US'. Print Edition | Subscribe