Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan attends a news conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, China, March 11 2018. File photo: REUTERS
Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan attends a news conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, China, March 11 2018. File photo: REUTERS

Beijing — China hopes Beijing and Washington will resolve their trade dispute “with a calm and rational attitude”, vice-commerce minister Wang Shouwen said on Sunday, ahead of talks in two weeks between the two sides.

The US and China have been locked in an escalating trade war for more than a year. They have levied punitive duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s goods, roiling financial markets and threatening global growth.

A new round of high-level talks between the world’s two largest economies is expected in Washington on October 10-11, led from the Chinese side by President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, Vice-Premier Liu He.

Wang, who has been part of China’s negotiating team with the US, told a news conference that Liu would go to Washington for the talks the week after China’s National Day holiday, which ends on October 7.

He said he hopes both sides will find ways to resolve their differences. “We believe this will benefit both countries’ people and the world,” he added.

The Trump administration is considering radical new financial pressure tactics on Beijing, including the possibility of delisting Chinese companies from US stock exchanges. Sources told Reuters on Friday that the move would be part of a broader effort to limit US investments into Chinese companies, in part because of growing security concerns about their activities.

Protecting rights

China has hit back at US criticisms about lack of market access for US firms, forced technology transfers and poor protection of intellectual property.

Wang reiterated that China will open up more sectors of the economy to foreign investors, and its policy of protecting foreign companies’ rights in the country will not change.

Earlier, commerce minister Zhong Shan told the news conference in Beijing that Chinese companies faced many difficulties due to the trade frictions, which he said posed unprecedented trade challenges to the country. China would expand imports, and measures to stabilise trade would yield positive results, he said without giving details.

The trade war has added to tensions between China and the US, whose ties are also strained over US criticism of human rights issues in China, including protests in Hong Kong, the disputed South China Sea and US support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat said on Friday that tariffs and trade disputes could plunge the world into recession and Beijing was committed to resolving them in a “calm, rational and co-operative manner”.

The dispute has taken its toll on the Chinese economy. China’s exports unexpectedly fell in August as shipments to the US slowed sharply, pointing to further weakness in the world’s second-largest economy and underlining a pressing need for more stimulus.

Beijing is widely expected to announce more support measures in the coming  months to avert the risk of a sharper economic slowdown as the US ratchets up trade pressure.

Reuters