While United States President Donald Trump expressed fresh optimism on Wednesday about the latest round of scheduled talks between the Washington and Beijing to resolve their on-going trade war, Chinese officials were not sounding as upbeat.
Speaking to reporters in Washington on Wednesday, Trump said: “If we can make a deal, we’re going to make a deal, there’s a really good chance,” adding: “In my opinion, China wants to make a deal more than I do.”
But Beijing has lowered its expectations for significant progress during this week’s trade talks, Chinese government officials told Reuters News Agency, after the US blacklisted 28 Chinese entities on Monday.
While Beijing theoretically wants to end the trade war, Chinese Communist Party officials are not optimistic about the size or scope of any agreement with Washington in the short term, the Chinese officials said.
Top US and Chinese trade and economic officials will meet in Washington on Thursday and Friday to try to end a 15-month-old trade war that is dragging down the global economy and threatening to upend decades-old trade systems.
Without significant progress, Trump is set to increase the tariff rate on $250bn worth of Chinese goods to 30 percent from 25 percent next Tuesday.
There is a possibility that this week’s round of talks between the world’s two largest economies could end in a deadlock, according to a Chinese official briefed on preparations for the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity.
For trade relations or overall ties between the two countries to improve, more time is needed, Chinese officials said.
While previous lower-level talks between US and Chinese officials aimed to create a good atmosphere for the upcoming meeting, the US blacklisting of Chinese entities has generated a negative atmosphere instead, Chinese officials said.
Days before this week’s talks, the US Department of Commerce blacklisted 28 Chinese organisations and entities including video surveillance firm Hikvision, citing human rights violations of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.
Chinese officials said the action interfered with China’s sovereignty.
The trade talks come in the wake of tit-for-tat bans on certain visas for each country’s officials and a controversy sparked by a Twitter post by an executive with the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets supporting anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
“We can add the Diplomatic war to the Financial war, Currency war and Technology war, that we already have,” John Browning, managing director at brokerage BANDS Financial in Shanghai, said in a note to investors.
The US demand that the Chinese Communist Party fundamentally change how it directs China’s massive economy to shift to a more Western model of free-market capitalism is irrational and misguided, a Chinese diplomat in the US said.
“What we achieved during the past few decades shows that our system is good for development in China,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
China would not ask the US to shift to an economy that relies heavily on state-owned enterprises, or ask it to start fully funding education, as China’s does, he said, so why should Washington expect the same from Beijing?
“We hope to strike an agreement but also accept the differences,” the diplomat added.
Western governments’ treatment of China in the past, including welcoming the country into multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization, has been predicated on the assumption that this ultimately would lead to Beijing’s liberalisation and gradual embrace of democratic norms.
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