China upbeat on prospects of new US trade deal
China struck an upbeat note yesterday as trade talks resumed with the United States, but also expressed anger at a US Navy mission through the disputed South China Sea, casting a shadow over the prospect for improved Beijing-Washington ties.
White House senior counsellor Kellyanne Conway also expressed confidence about a possible deal. Asked yesterday if the two countries were getting close to a trade agreement, she told Fox News: "It looks that way, absolutely."
The United States is expected to keep pressing China on long-standing demands that it reform how it treats American companies' intellectual property in order to seal a trade deal that could prevent tariffs from rising on Chinese imports.
The latest talks kick off with working level discussions yesterday before high-level discussions later in the week.
Negotiations in Washington last month ended without a deal and with the top US negotiator declaring work was needed.
"We, of course, hope, and the people of the world want to see, a good result," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing in Beijing.
The two sides are trying to hammer out a deal before the March 1 deadline when US tariffs on $200bn (€177bn) worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to rise to 25pc from 10pc.
Mr Trump said last week he did not plan to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before that deadline, dampening hopes that a trade pact could be reached quickly. But the White House's Ms Conway said a meeting was still possible soon.
Escalating tensions between the US and China have cost both countries billions of dollars and disrupted global trade and business flows, roiling financial markets.
The same day the latest talks began, two US warships sailed near islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea, a US official told Reuters.
China claims a large part of the South China Sea, and has built artificial islands and air bases there, prompting concern around the region and in Washington.