xi's moments

Right attitude to talks has been fruitful so far: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-02-10 20:38

China and the United States will hold a new round of high-level talks this week in their latest attempt to bridge their differences on economic and trade policies. Preparatory lower-level talks begin on Monday before the principal talks led by Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday and Friday.

That the respective delegations have progressively grown in size and the discussions have continued during the Christmas and Spring Festival holidays shows not only are both sides committed to finding a way to end their dispute, but also that concrete progress is being made toward achieving that goal.

In previous talks, China has shown its utmost sincerity by taking a practical problem-solving approach. For instance, by increasing imports of agricultural products from the US and accelerating the opening up of its financial sector. It has also agreed to take concrete measures to strengthen protection of intellectual property rights, a major concern of the US side.

The US, on its part, has gradually become less highhanded and more cooperative and the discussions have evolved to become more far-reaching and in-depth. But to ensure the world's two largest economies can ultimately reach a farsighted agreement that sets a solid foundation for the future of their relations, their upcoming discussions must continue to seek long-term remedies not quick-fix tonics.

As the two sides have listened to each other's concerns they have come to understand each other better. And since the leaders of the two countries met in Argentina in December and agreed on a 90-day process of talks to prevent an escalation of the dispute, tangible progress has been made in bridging their differences.

If the US side does not try to force China to implement untimely structural reforms there is no reason why further progress cannot be made if the two sides continue to talk in accordance with the principles of mutual respect and reciprocity, and with a willingness to work together for shared benefits.

Bearing this in mind, US President Donald Trump's remark on Thursday he did not expect to meet President Xi Jinping before the March 1 deadline for the two economic superpowers to reach a deal, does not foretell an agreement is not forthcoming or that the impending tariffs will be triggered.

Clearly there are still differences — perhaps sizable — to be overcome, but Trump's comment that a final resolution of the trade dispute would depend on the meeting with Xi "in the near future" suggests that they are not insurmountable hurdles.

Hopefully, this week's talks will get the two sides past a few more potential stumbling blocks and continue the good momentum that has been achieved since the two leaders set the process in motion.

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