‘Big Differences’ Still Remain After U.S.-China Talks

US and China will meet for the first time at a high level since Russia's attack on Ukraine as Biden tries to get Beijing's help with the war.

Following two days of talks in Beijing, China said that top officials made progress with the U.S. but that some “big differences” on certain issues remain nonetheless. According to CNN, the two sides agreed to continue “close communication,” and reached agreements in some areas, including increasing exports from the United States to China.

“Both sides realized that there are some relatively big differences on some issues. And more work needs to be done to achieve more progress,” China’s official news agency Xinhua said on Friday.

In recent months concerns about a possible trade war between the world’s top two economies have been on the increase as a result of threats by both countries to impose steep tariffs on exports worth tens of billions of dollars.

Tensions have been tightened by the United States’ decision to move after Huawei and ZTE, China’s smartphone makers, and Beijing move to tax American sorghum. Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce banned ZTE from buying product parts from American firms because, it said, the company lied about punishing employees who violated sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

China’s Ministry of Commerce issued a statement Friday saying that it had lodged “solemn representations with the U.S.” about ZTE during the Beijing talks.

“Irrespective of any short-term deal … trade friction will be a permanent feature of the next few years,” Richard Jerram, chief economist at the Bank of Singapore, said in a research note on Friday.

President Donald Trump maintained China had a huge trade surplus with the U.S. and urged Beijing to reduce it by $100 billion. Experts, however, say China is unlikely to meet this demand. The U.S. government has also been calling on China to move away from an industrial policy that critics claim subsidizes Chinese companies on the global stage and pressures foreign rivals to hand over key technologies.

President Trump’s delegation of top economic advisers, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, met in Beijing with a Chinese team led by Liu He, President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser.

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