Despite the mixed messages President Donald Trump is sending out with regards to a Sino-US trade deal, China’s top trade negotiator has expressed cautious optimism that a partial agreement could be reached, Bloomberg reports.
At a dinner in Beijing, Vice Premier Liu He expressed confidence that the phase-one deal could be concluded successfully. Liu also pointed out that China was ready to meet many of the demands that the US has made.
This includes opening up its financial sector, initiating reforms in state corporations and putting a stop to intellectual property theft and violations. China’s top trade negotiator however regretted that US demands were ‘confused’ without offering details.
Liu’s optimism stands in contrast to Trump’s recent reluctance to strike a trade deal with China. While touring Apple’s manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas, Trump accused the world’s second-largest economy of not ‘stepping up to the level that I want’.
Just two days ago, Trump threatened to hike tariffs further if a deal that was to his liking wasn’t reached:
If we don’t make a deal with China, I’ll just raise the tariffs even higher.
The Hong Kong crisis is also further threatening to scuttle a trade deal. This is after both the US Senate and the House of Representatives signed a pro-Hong Kong rights bill. Pundits have suggested that offering support to Hong Kong protestors could worsen the Sino-US relationship and potentially placing a trade deal in jeopardy.
On the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed ‘solidarity with freedom-loving people of Hong Kong’ saying Congress fully supported their ‘fight for freedom’. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill which was passed unanimously into law on Thursday.
Signs of a likely confrontation over the move have already emerged. Geng Shuang, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson has said that China will ‘resolutely fight back’ without offering details.
Senior Chinese diplomat, Wang Yi, has also said that China will never allow the ‘one country two systems’ principle to be undermined. Wang characterized the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that was unanimously passed by the US Congress as indulging ‘violent criminals’. He also said its goal is to destroy the city-state.
The spanners that are being thrown in the works are coming days after the now-canceled summit in Santiago, Chile. China’s President Xi Jinping and Trump had been expected to meet and sign the first phase of the trade deal at the summit.