In this file:
· China Condemns U.S. Over Hong Kong. That Won’t Stop Trade Talks.
· Official: ‘Millimetres’ separate US, China from phase one trade deal
China Condemns U.S. Over Hong Kong. That Won’t Stop Trade Talks.
Legislation signed by Trump poses a direct challenge to Beijing’s rule, but trade and the softening Chinese economy present bigger problems.
By Keith Bradsher, Javier C. Hernández and Alexandra Stevenson, The New York Times
Nov. 28, 2019
SHANGHAI — China vented on Thursday after President Trump signed new human rights legislation covering the protest-wracked city of Hong Kong. It denounced the new law as illegal interference in its own affairs. It summoned the American ambassador for the second time in a week. It vowed retaliation.
The threats sounded severe. They also sounded empty.
Behind the harsh rhetoric, China has few options for striking back at the United States in a meaningful way. And it has bigger priorities — namely, ending the increasingly punishing trade war between the two countries. Though both sides are talking about their willingness to reach a deal, they have yet to sign even an interim pact that would head off potentially damaging new tariffs less than three weeks from now.
On Thursday, Beijing’s main agency on trade remained quiet on the legislation even as other officials railed against it, suggesting that the government remained open to a trade deal and would let the volatile issue of Hong Kong simmer, at least for now.
“Beijing will make a lot of noises but they can’t afford to do much,” said Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, a research center. “The trade deal is so important to the Chinese that they won’t let anything upset it.”
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On the face of it, President Trump’s signature on two bills looks like a direct brushback against Beijing’s rule over Hong Kong. The former British colony operates under its own laws but has come increasingly under the sway of Beijing, one reason behind the increasingly violent protests that have troubled the Chinese territory for five months.
The first bill authorizes the American government to impose sanctions on Chinese or Hong Kong officials responsible for human rights abuses there. The second bill bans the sale of American-made tear gas, rubber bullets or other crowd-control equipment to the Hong Kong authorities.
China’s reaction was immediate but unspecific. It summoned Terry Branstad, the American ambassador to China, to complain about the Hong Kong legislation, after doing the same thing just three days ago. Hu Xijin, the well-connected editor of the nationalistic Global Times tabloid, said China could retaliate by banning the legislation’s drafters from China and Hong Kong, a move that would be symbolic at best.
At a daily news conference in Beijing on Thursday, Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said Beijing may take unspecified countermeasures. “This so-called act will only make the broad Chinese people, including their compatriots in Hong Kong, more aware of the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the U.S.,” he said, adding that “the plot of the U.S. side is doomed to failure.”
Still, asked about trade, Mr. Geng said only that the United States should not implement the law “so as to not affect China-U.S. relations.” And at its weekly news conference on Thursday, China’s Commerce Ministry — the arm of the Chinese government directly involved in trade talks — did not mention the American legislation.
The Trump administration has sent its own signals that it does not want the Hong Kong legislation to derail trade talks. Mr. Trump signed the bills in private, outside the presence of lawmakers, photographers and television crews. He also said, without offering specifics, that some of the provisions might infringe on the constitutional prerogatives of the presidency to oversee foreign policy, suggesting he may not implement them.
While the Chinese government sees the unrest in Hong Kong as a test of its strength and authority, it has reasons to put the economy first.
The trade war has contributed to an economic slowdown that has sent growth to its most sluggish pace in nearly three decades. Economic indicators in recent weeks suggest the slowdown has continued, if not worsened. The Communist Party governs with undisputed power in China based on a promise of a better life, so a slowdown could present a direct challenge to its rule.
At the same time, China has come to realize in recent weeks that it needs massive imports of meat to offset an epidemic that has killed half or more of the country’s pigs. The United States is the world’s second-largest producer of pork after China, the second-largest soybean producer for animal feed after Brazil and the largest beef producer.
China and the United States are far from ending their trade war...
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Official: ‘Millimetres’ separate US, China from phase one trade deal
· Senior White House official’s comments add to growing confidence two sides will reach a preliminary agreement after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend
· Donald Trump has been pushing Beijing to agree to buy substantial quantities of US agricultural products
via South China Morning Post (China) - 28 Nov, 2019
This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Adam Behsudi and Ben White on politico.com
on November 27, 2019.
A preliminary trade deal between the United States and China is “millimetres away”, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.
The comments add to the growing optimism that the US and China can announce a so-called phase one agreement soon after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
US President Donald Trump has been pushing for a deal that would force Beijing to purchase significant amounts of agricultural goods after American farmers in the Midwest have been battered by Chinese retaliation during a nearly two-year trade war.
An initial trade deal could also involve a rollback of tariffs that Trump has slapped on roughly US$360 billion worth of Chinese goods. Another round of duties is scheduled to hit US$160 billion worth of Chinese imports, including consumer goods like laptops and smartphones, on December 15.
The White House has been signalling “cautious optimism” that it could close a deal soon. Work in recent days has included removing brackets from the agreement text that note areas of disagreement and finalising other areas of the text, said a person briefed by the administration.
Final considerations are being given around how Trump might roll back tariffs to not only include the December 15 round but also another set of import duties that were slapped on roughly US$110 billion worth of Chinese goods on September 1.
The possibility of phasing out tariffs on the first three rounds, which affected about US$250 billion worth of Chinese imports, is also under consideration, said another person close to the talks.
Trump has said the phase one deal will require China to purchase up to US$50 billion worth of US farm goods within two years...