China says it’s striving for trade deal with US

by AFP/ pic by TMR FILE

BEIJING – China said Thursday it is still striving to reach a trade deal with the United States, a day after President Donald Trump accused Beijing of not making sufficient concessions.

Negotiators from both sides have been working towards a partial deal that includes bigger Chinese orders for US farm goods and better protections for intellectual property.

But Trump Wednesday accused Beijing of not “stepping up” to the level he expected, making him reluctant to conclude a bargain.

Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday that negotiators from both sides “will maintain close communication” and were working on finalising a phase-one deal.

“China is willing to work with the US side on the basis of equality and mutual respect to properly address each other’s core concerns and strive to reach a phase one agreement,” Gao said at a regular briefing.

Top Chinese and US trade negotiators held “constructive” discussions over the phone on a preliminary trade deal on Saturday, Gao said, without offering details.

China has insisted on a rollback of existing tariffs, which Trump said he has not agreed to.

US Congress approval for legislation supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong has also cast a shadow on the ongoing trade talks.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act requires the president to annually review the city’s favourable trade status and threatens to revoke it if the semi-autonomous territory’s freedoms are quashed.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to comment on whether passage of the bill would derail trade talks.