China warns U.S. trade deals off if tariffs go ahead

President Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping during Trump's visit to China last November. The US has threatened

China warns U.S. trade deals off if tariffs go ahead

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross led the U.S. team in negotiations this weekend with Chinese officials after several days of talks by lower-level officials.

"The Chinese government's attitude of not wanting but also not fearing a trade war has never changed", it said.

No formal trade deals came out of that meeting, but China agreed last month to "significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services", according to a White House statement.

"China is willing to increase imports from other countries, including the United States, to satisfy the Chinese people's increasing consumption needs and the country's high-quality economic growth", the statement said.

No joint statement was issued at the end of Sunday's meeting in Beijing, and there has been no response to the Chinese comments by the U.S. side.

The White House threw the meeting's status into doubt on Tuesday (local time) by renewing a threat to impose 25 per cent tariffs on $US50 billion ($66 billion) of Chinese high-tech goods in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

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China too threatened a tit-for-tat retaliation but blinked in the end with a categorical undertaking to import more goods from the USA, sparking off concerns over the likely trade war between the two countries for its potential to create a cascading effect on the global trade order.

It says the two sides have made concrete progress on many areas but the details are left for final approval.

Ross had been expected to seek clear commitments from Beijing to boost Chinese imports of USA products in areas such as energy and agriculture. "The White House's tariff announcement on May 29 was just part of the negotiations for Wilbur Ross' visit to Beijing as they try to clinch deals that favour the USA", he said.

Ross had a working dinner Saturday evening with Liu, also at the same guesthouse in Beijing.

He says steel tariffs will protect United States steelmakers, which he says are vital to national security. "However, what the saying right now is: "I'm done with you, I don't want to stick with the rules anymore", and there's not much we can do", said Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at Industrial Bank in Shanghai. Discussions centered on getting China to carry out recent promises to buy more American farm and energy products.

The U.S. delegation didn't comment after the talks but Ross earler said that the "meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items". "Our established rhythm will not change", said Xinhua, China's official news agency.

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Trump has pledged to reduce this as well as curtailing President Xi Jinping's "Made in China 2025" program, which will turn the world's second-largest economy into a technological powerhouse. China balked at making concessions unless the USA lifted the tariff threat.

The two governments released no schedule for the talks, but China said earlier Ross was due to be in Beijing through to Monday.

At a heated meeting in the Canadian ski resort of Whistler, the European Union and Canada threatened to retaliate against tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium, whose implementation Mr Ross announced on Thursday.

The negotiating process should be "based on the premise" of not fighting a "trade war", the statement said.

The U.S. team had also wanted to secure greater intellectual property protection and an end to Chinese subsidies that have contributed to overproduction of steel and aluminum.

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