Chinese Vice Premier holds trade talks with US lawmakers



China’s top economic adviser Liu He held meetings with members of the U.S. Congress ahead of trade negotiations with the Trump administration.

He met with the chairs of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and members of the Senate Committee on finance. They expressed concerns about protecting U.S. intellectual property.

CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

Lawmakers told CGTN that Liu He said, in part, that he was here in Washington to listen to U.S. concerns. They also said that their focus was not on the trade deficit, nor on the fate of ZTE (a.k.a. the Chinese telecoms firm recently banned from purchasing U.S. components).

Their focus was on expressing concerns over China’s trading practices and market access for U.S. companies. They said they want to make the trade relationship much more reciprocal.

Orrin Hatch is a senior U.S. senator who met with Liu He and his delegation. He has criticized the White House imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs, and is a free trader who wants the threat of tariffs on both sides lifted.

The U.S. Congress is currently considering tightening restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States. They’re also considering increasing scrutiny of Chinese purchases of U.S. firms, especially in key technology sectors. Many of the concerns are bi-partisan.

Meanwhile, Thursday is the beginning of two days of negotiations with the Trump administration, but it’s unclear what to expect.

U.S. President Trump surprised many on the weekend by tweeting about how he will intervene to help ZTE, but he has backtracked on that a little. It’s move that seemed to signal Trump might be ready to compromise.

But then the president tweeted this:

We do know that Liu He will meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, or with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative. Mnuchin is known to want a deal that cuts the trade deficit, and President Trump has often signaled that’s his priority. Lighthizer and others have pushed China to essentially make more structural changes to its economy.

As for the Chinese delegation, Liu He leads a group of eight high-ranking Chinese officials. That included the vice ministers responsible for agriculture, industry, commerce and finance, and the governor of the People’s Bank of China.

A lot is at stake. The U.S. is threatening to slap tariffs on up to $150 billion worth of Chinese imports, and China has said it will respond.

Two weeks ago in Beijing, the trade talks ended with big differences. Business executives and economists on both sides of the Pacific hope this round will bridge some of the remaining gaps.

Sam Zhao talks about China-US trade deal

CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Sam Zhao, professor and executive director of the Center for China-U.S. Cooperation at the University of Denver about China U.S. trade talks.