BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The trade war truce agreed by China and the United States at the weekend could help them resolve their differences amicably, but lasting improvements in relations will depend on U.S. “sincerity”, Chinese state media said on Monday.
U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attend a working dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
China and the United States agreed to halt new tariffs during talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in Argentina on Saturday following months of escalating tensions on trade and other issues.
In a meeting lasting two and a half hours, the United States agreed not to raise tariffs further on Jan. 1, while China agreed to purchase agricultural products from U.S. farmers immediately.
The two sides also agreed to begin discussions on how to resolve issues of concern, including intellectual property protection, non-tariff trade barriers and cyber theft.
But in an editorial, the official China Daily warned that while the new “consensus” was a welcome development and gave both sides “breathing space” to resolve their differences, there was no “magic wand” that would allow the grievances to disappear immediately.
“Given the complexity of interactions between the two economies, the rest of the world will still be holding its collective breath,” it said.
In a separate editorial published late Sunday, China’s state news agency Xinhua said the new consensus “demonstrates that as long as the two sides have sincerity, there is a way out.”
It called on both sides to “take immediate steps” to address concerns and bring trade and economic relations back to normal but warned that there was still “a long way ahead before anything of substance can be achieved.”
Widely-read tabloid the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, warned people had to have realistic expectations.
“The Chinese public needs to keep in mind that China-U.S. trade negotiations fluctuate. China’s reform and opening-up’s broad perspective recognizes that the rest of the world does things differently,” it said in its editorial.
There are also differences in the Chinese and U.S. accounts of what was agreed.
The White House said China was “open to approving the previously unapproved” deal for U.S. company Qualcomm Inc to acquire Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors “should it again be presented”.
Chinese state media has made only scant mention of the Qualcomm issue, which was not addressed by the Chinese government’s top diplomat at a news conference in Buenos Aires on Saturday night.
In July, Qualcomm – the world’s biggest smartphone-chip maker – walked away from a $44 billion deal to buy NXP after failing to secure Chinese regulatory approval, becoming a high-profile victim of the China-U.S. trade dispute.
There was also caution from the U.S. business community.
William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the outcome of the meeting was “as good as we could have expected” considering the complex issues involved.
“But probably the most challenging area to resolve – China’s discriminatory economic policies based on state support and domestic market protectionism – needs to be addressed in order to level the playing field and have a sustainable commercial relationship based on fairness and reciprocal treatment.”
Reporting by Ben Blanchard and David Stanway; Editing by Sam Holmes