China and the United States will hold talks on trade and economic issues in Beijing on Thursday and Friday, marking the first high-level meeting since the bilateral trade dispute escalated in March.
The Ministry of Commerce announced on Wednesday that a US delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, visiting as US President Donald Trump’s special envoy, will exchange views on China-US economic and trade issues with Vice-Premier Liu He, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
The US delegation also includes Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Larry Kudlow, assistant to the president for economic policy, and Peter Navarro, assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday it is in the best interests of the two countries to resolve disputes and maintain the overall stability of bilateral business relations through negotiations.
Taking into account the size of the Chinese and US economies and the complexity of the relationship, it may not be realistic to expect one meeting to resolve all the problems, she said at a news briefing.
Experts remain “cautiously optimistic” about the trade talks, even as the Trump administration already threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese imports while China has vowed to retaliate against US exports if Washington moves forward with that plan.
Chen Wenling, chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the topics under discussion surely will not be limited to trade, because the US also wants to promote its “America First” strategy by containing China’s ability to attract foreign direct investment.
“The US also is deeply concerned about China’s industrial upgrades, technology transfers, currency rate, talent flows and intellectual property protection. It also wants to relieve the downward pressure on its stock market,” she said.
“China’s firm stance has prompted Trump to send all his top economic officials for trade negotiations to avert further escalation or a trade war,” said Xue Rongjiu, deputy director of Beijing-based China Society for WTO Studies.
Zhang Monan, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the codependency of China and the US is a highly reactive relationship.
“When one country changes the terms of the engagement, the other, feeling scorned, usually responds in kind,” Zhang said.