With a March 2 deadline looming, U.S. and Chinese negotiators will meet in Washington next week for more talks on a tariff war over Beijing’s technology ambitions, China’s government announced Friday.
The announcement came after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Chinese President Xi Jinping that negotiators had “made headway” on important issues in two days of talks that wrapped up Friday in Beijing.
Officials expressed optimism but gave no details of this week’s negotiations, which had been the last scheduled before a planned American tariff hike on $200 billion of Chinese imports on March 2. Economists said the talks were too brief to resolve the tariff fight that is dragging on global economic growth.
“I hope you will continue to work hard to promote a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement,” Xi told Lighthizer in a meeting after the negotiations ended, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The announcement of further talks suggested both sides believe they are making progress. But there was no indication of movement on the thorniest dispute: U.S. pressure on Beijing to scale back plans for government-led creation of Chinese global leaders in robotics and other technologies.
“We feel we have made headway on very, very important and difficult issues,” Lighthizer told Xi. “We have additional work we have to do but we are hopeful.”
Xi said Beijing and Washington “share broad mutual interests” in promoting global economic prosperity and stability.
“We shoulder important responsibilities,” the Chinese leader said.
Trump had made “no decision” on the tariff hike, his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters Thursday in Washington. The president said Tuesday he might let the March 2 deadline “slide for a little while” if the talks went well.
Washington, Europe, Japan and other governments say Beijing’s industry plans violate its market-opening obligations. Some American officials worry they might erode U.S. industrial leadership.
Trump raised tariffs in July over complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. The dispute has spread to cover cyber-spying traced to China, the country’s multibillion-dollar trade surplus with the United States and support for state industry.
Beijing has offered to narrow its trade surplus by purchasing more American soybeans, natural gas and other exports. But the government has resisted pressure to cut back development plans it sees as a path to prosperity and global influence.
“From politics to economy to ideology, the United States hopes to intervene in China’s affairs,” said the newspaper Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party.
Chinese officials also have balked at U.S. pressure to accept an enforcement mechanism to monitor whether Beijing carries out its promises.
Beijing has tried to deflect pressure by emphasizing China’s growth as an export market. It has announced changes over the past year to open finance and other fields, including allowing full foreign ownership in its auto industry for the first time.