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Trump trade chief wants to open China, not change its economic system
03 May 2018, 10:04 | Tara Lloyd
China 'won't bow to US pressure and is ready to fight to the end if a trade war breaks out'
A breakthrough deal to fundamentally change China's economic policies is viewed as highly unlikely, though a package of short-term Chinese measures could delay a USA tariff decision.
Last month, Washington banned Chinese telecom and smartphone giant ZTE from purchasing crucial U.S. components for seven years - threatening the company's survival - as punishment for breaking USA export controls.
On Wednesday, the eve of Mnuchin's meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing, the US Defence Department banned the sale of products by Chinese telecom equipment makers ZTE and Huawei on American military bases around the world, and Trump is reportedly considering such restrictions in the US.
"I think the goal from the American side is to get this conversation back on track from both sides talking past each other to China really understanding that the American concerns are genuine", he added.
The U.S.is coming to the table with a laundry list of complaints about how China controls its markets.
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(U.S. Edition) U.S. officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are heading to China to work through trade problems.
In the upcoming trade talks, Liu is more likely to offer "several liberalising steps lowering tariffs, reducing ownership caps in finance, etc" than what Mnuchin is looking for in terms of balanced trade and changes in the Made in China 2025 plan, Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-based think tank, said in an email.
As long as the U.S. delegation is honest about maintaining the overall stability of China-U.S. economic and trade relations and an attitude of mutual respect, equal consultation and mutual benefits, the consultation will be constructive, Hua said. "That means they have more to lose at the end of the day".
China, which denies it coerces such technology transfers, has threatened retaliation in equal measure, including tariffs on USA soybeans and aircraft.
US-based trade experts said they expected Beijing to offer Trump's team a package of policy changes that may include some previously announced moves, such as a phaseout of joint venture requirements for some sectors, autos tariff reductions and increased purchases of United States goods.
The Trump administration sought to temper expectations for a swift breakthrough on trade issues with China as a delegation of senior USA officials prepares to visit Beijing this week.
But the divergent USA trade delegation group is likely to have differing views on the merits of such an offer.
"I don't expect any grand bargains being struck", said Michael Camunez, CEO of consultancy Monarch Global Strategies and a former senior trade official under President Barack Obama. "This will be a short-term offer to reduce the trade deficit". Trump's trade and economic advisers Peter Navarro and Larry Kudlow will travel with Ross for the discussions, which will begin on Thursday.
"It is not my objective to change the Chinese system", Lighthizer said.
The delegation-level trade talks to be held between the United States and China on Thursday will only be fruitful if the former is honest in its determination to preserve the stability of economic ties, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Wednesday. "This won't be, suddenly in Beijing, a breathtaking release (that) everything is solved".
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