Chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council Evan Greenberg, center left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang hold a talk at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Yukie Nishizawa/Pool Photo via AP)

China appeals to Washington for quick end to trade war

October 17, 2019 - 2:46 am

BEIJING (AP) — China appealed to Washington for a quick end to their tariff war but gave no indication Thursday what more Beijing might want before it carries out what President Donald Trump says is a promise to buy up to $50 billion of American farm goods.

Trump's promise Friday to delay a tariff hike in exchange for Chinese purchases of U.S. exports helped to reassure financial markets. But the deal has yet to be put on paper and few details have been announced, leaving companies questioning whether Beijing has required other conditions such as lifting of punitive tariffs before purchases go ahead.

Business groups welcomed the deal as a possible step toward breaking a deadlock in the 15-month-old fight over China's trade surplus and technology ambitions. Trump promised to delay a tariff hike this week on $250 billion of Chinese imports.

Still, economists warned it fails to address the core issues of the dispute that threatens to derail global economic growth. Those include complaints about Beijing's technology plans.

Negotiators are "striving to reach a consensus on the text of the agreement as soon as possible," said a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng, at a weekly news briefing. He said he couldn't give details.

Beijing has yet to confirm whether it will make purchases on the scale announced by Trump.

Beijing wants "economic and trade relations back on the right track at an early date," Gao said.

Achieving results "will help eliminate uncertainty and restore market confidence and also is highly significant for stabilizing the global economic situation," he said.

Beijing is resisting American pressure to roll back plans for government-led creation of Chinese global competitors in robotics and other technologies.

Washington, Europe, Japan and other trading partners complain those violate Beijing's market-opening commitments and are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over know-how.

On Tuesday, a foreign ministry spokesman said China would "speed up procurement" of American farm exports but gave no scale or time frame.

China has bought 20 million tons of soybeans and 700,000 tons of pork this year from the United States, according to the spokesman, Geng Shuang. China's imports of American soybeans averaged 33 million tons a year before the tariff fight and collapsed to 16.6 million tons.