US-China trade talks extended, amid continuing obstacles
9 January 2019
Trade talks between US and Chinese negotiators in Beijing will continue into a third day as the Trump administration continues to ratchet up its demands on the Chinese government. While Trump tweeted yesterday that the talks were “going very well,” major stumbling blocks are still unresolved.
The bellicose character of the Trump administration’s stance was underscored by its provocative decision to send a US Navy destroyer into the South China Sea on Monday—the day the talks began—to directly infringe on Chinese maritime claims. Trump’s aggressive trade war measures are just one component of a wider strategy, including a military build-up in Asia, to undermine China and subordinate it to US interests.
For its part, the Chinese government pointedly hosted a top-level visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Beijing yesterday on the second day of the talks. Just as Washington denied any connection between the dispatch of a destroyer to the South China Sea and the negotiations, so Beijing has dismissed any link between the talks and Kim’s trip. Nevertheless, it sent a message that the US needs China’s assistance on North Korea which could be in jeopardy if Washington keeps pressing on trade.
China has already made significant concessions on trade and other US economic demands, including the recommencement of Chinese purchases of American soybeans and a lowering of tariffs on American cars. The restrictions on cars and soybeans were imposed as part of China’s retaliation against Trump’s decision to place tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
China has also sought to address other issues. Last month it released the draft of a law to prevent local Chinese…