US And China Still Deeply Divided As Trade Talks Begin

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Lighthizer will head to Beijing on Thursday as part of a US delegate to further trade talks between the two countries, hoping to ease tensions that have spiked in the past month.

At stake are tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. and Chinese goods, which, if imposed, could put a dent in humming global economic growth.

Trump has threatened tariffs on up to $150 billion worth of Chinese goods to punish China over its joint-venture requirements and other policies that USTR says forces American companies to surrender their intellectual properties to state-backed Chinese competitors.

In an editorial, the official China Daily said Beijing wanted the talks to produce "feasible solutions to put an end to the ongoing feud" and that they could go well if the USA delegation genuinely wants to listen as well as talk. The meetings will start Thursday and the US officials plan to head home by the weekend, though the trip could be cut short "if it's not satisfactory", he said in an interview with CNBC.

"President Trump is of the view that it's now time for action. And as a champion of globalisation, free trade and multilateralism, it will have strong support from the worldwide community", the English-language paper added.

China says it is determined to open its economy further to the outside world, and has denounced what it calls US protectionism. "It is already in the process of opening them wider", the paper said. "Negotiations are the best way to resolve the problem".

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The United States has asked China to reduce its bilateral trade surplus by $100 billion and has targeted Beijing's "Made in China 2025" initiative, which aims to upgrade the domestic manufacturing base with more advanced products. The US tariffs could go into effect in June following the completion of a 60-day consultation period, but USTR has kept its activation plans vague.

President Trump has threatened to hit Beijing with billions of dollars of tariffs in response to the findings of an investigation by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative that alleges that China's trade policies treat the U.S. unfairly.

"We've got a very good chance at making a deal", said Trump last week.

Lighthizer said it would be "madness" for the United States to keep allowing Chinese-state backed firms to buy up USA technology companies, especially as China prohibits such acquisitions by US firms.

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.

But the divergent United States trade delegation group is likely to have differing views on the merits of such an offer.