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Former Senior Official Optimistic about China-US Trade Talks

The China-US talks are likely to reach a constructive consensus

By Xu Mouquan Updated Jan.11

China and the US held trade talks in Beijing on January 7 and 8, the first trade negotiations after a Xi-Trump meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Argentina last December.

Writing for China Watch, a think tank under China Daily, Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce and now vice-chairman of China Center for International Economic Exchanges, was optimistic in his prediction for the results on January 7.  

Both sides have a clearer view of their own goals and intentions for the negotiations and understand reaching a consensus is more urgently needed than before, Wei noted. The US will unlikely propose unrealistic and hard-to-realize conditions, he claimed, arguing it is more sensible for the country to be pragmatic and dispense with the high-handed judgments that plagued previous talks. 

What the US expects is consistent with China’s own needs to some extent, he noted. For example, while protecting its core interests, China must strengthen intellectual property protection, expand imports and lower market thresholds, all of which address US concerns. 

Both are facing increasing downward pressure on their respective economies amid an unstable global economy, Wei wrote. In the US, benefits from Trump’s tax cuts are fading, the impact of trade frictions are showing on its stock markets, and its protectionist trade policies have reduced exporter and consumer confidence in the market. The US needs some good news. 

Forty years after introducing the reform and opening-up, China is now prioritizing high-quality economic development and improvement of living standards. Wei also suggested both sides take constructive measures to create conditions for new strategic cooperation in trade and economy. 

Some argued that while the two-day talks of deputy-ministerial level work group meetings would help rebuild confidence and hope, they are not likely to produce any breakthroughs. However, Wei said this round of talks is critical, as its results will not only pave the way for subsequent higher-level negotiations but also produce proposals for a mutually beneficial China-US package deal.