Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Schwarzman’

Peter Navarro Blasts China and Wall Street ‘Globalists’

November 10, 2018

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U.S. and Chinese presidents are set to meet at the end of the month

Peter Navarro, seen here at the White House in June, is President Trump’s trade adviser.
Peter Navarro, seen here at the White House in June, is President Trump’s trade adviser. PHOTO: JIM WATSON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON—President Trump’s senior trade adviser, Peter Navarro, excoriated China and attacked Goldman Sachs and Wall Street as Beijing’s “unpaid foreign agents” who are weakening the U.S. leader before his meeting this month with China’s president.

Less than a mile away from where Mr. Navarro spoke, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with their Chinese counterparts to try to mend fences with Beijing, while discussing North Korea, Iran, the South China Sea and trade.

Decoding Xi Jinping's Strategy on Trade

At a mega-trade show in China, global businesses and political leaders were looking for hints of Xi Jinping’s strategy ahead of planned trade talks with President Trump. Photo: Reuters

They emerged with a consensus on some issues and differences on others.

The mixed messages reflect bitter tensions in the Trump administration about how to approach China.

Mr. Navarro and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are deeply skeptical that China will make the kinds of the changes sought by the Trump administration and urge additional tariffs.

Other officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, have been trying to line up a deal. Mr. Trump sometimes favors one group and sometimes the other.

As a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping looms at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires, the economic council is coordinating what kind of trade deal the U.S. might accept from China. It is focusing on intellectual property, agricultural tariffs, forced technology transfer and requirements that U.S. firms form joint ventures to operate in China.

. It is focusing on intellectual property, agricultural tariffs, forced technology transfer and overturning requirements that U.S. firms form joint ventures to operate in China.

Mr. Navarro is pushing for a hard line on the talks, but made his position in an unusually personal terms.

“If Wall Street is involved and continues to insinuate itself in these negotiations, there will be a stench around any deal that’s consummated because it will have the imprimatur of Goldman Sachs and Wall Street,” Mr. Navarro said in a talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. He didn’t provide any evidence to back up his claims. A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. spokesman declined to comment.

Mr. Navarro also trained his rhetoric on Mr. Xi, who he said had failed to live up to deals with the Obama administration on demilitarizing the South China Sea and ending cyber hacking of U.S. firms. He referred to a “high-ranking member of the Chinese government,” in his address, but his description only fit Mr. Xi.

A senior White House official said Mr. Navarro didn’t speak for the administration or Mr. Trump. “It’s the president who rejuvenated the China negotiations” when he called Mr. Xi on Nov. 1, he said. Mr. Navarro “is freelancing; he’s speaking for himself.”

The security dialogue, initiated last year by Messrs. Trump and Xi, aims to boost cooperation between the two powers. Mr. Trump frequently refers to Mr. Xi as a friend and others in the administration rarely criticize him personally, as a way to create political space for potential deals.

“This was an incredibly productive conversation,” Mr. Pompeo said after the meeting in Washington with senior Communist Party official Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe. “The United States is not pursuing a Cold War or containment policy with China, rather we want to make sure ensure that China acts responsibly and fairly.”

The two sides said they reinforced their commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and discussed Iran’s nuclear activities.

The two sides said they reinforced their commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and discussed Iran’s nuclear activities. But Mr. Pompeo said there remained “significant differences” over the militarization South China Sea islands, China’s policy toward Taiwan and human rights.

Mr. Pompeo didn’t address trade issues but senior Communist Party official Yang Jiechi suggested they discussed the subject, noting that a trade war isn’t good for either side. On trade, the fight appears to be as much within the U.S. administration as with China.

Mr. Navarro, in his talk, took a subtle jab at his main adversary, Mr. Mnuchin, who has tried to sideline Mr. Navarro and arrange talks with Beijing. Mr. Navarro said, “You’re not in good hands when negotiations get outside” of Messrs. Trump and Lighthizer.

Mr. Navarro lashed out at what he called “a self-appointed group of Wall Street bankers and hedge-fund managers” who he described as “globalist billionaires.”

“The mission of these unregistered foreign agents—that’s what they are; they are unregistered foreign agents—is to pressure this president into some kind of deal,” Mr. Navarro said.

While administration trade hawks frequently rail privately against U.S. executives who acts as back channels between the two nations, it rare for one to do so publicly. For one thing some of the executives, including Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman, are friends of the president and speak to him frequently.

Others including former Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Hank Paulson, who was President Bush’s Treasury secretary, consults with Mr. Mnuchin. Mr. Schwarzman declined to comment. A spokesman for Mr. Paulson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. complains that Beijing hasn’t given it a formal proposal, while China says that it needs to meet again, before the summit, before it can offer something concrete.

While the administration is refining what it wants from China—essentially trying to create a negotiating bottom line—it is also lining up additional tariffs should negotiations stall. So far, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods, about half what China sends to the U.S. Of that, the levies on $200 billion of goods are scheduled to increase to 25% on Jan. 1 from the current 10%.

The administration is also putting the finishing touches on prospective tariffs on most of the rest of Chinese imports, said the senior White House official. Administration and business officials expect that any additional tariffs would exempt mobile phones and perhaps laptops, to reduce the chance of a reaction by consumers hit with a big price increase.

Write to Bob Davis at and Gordon Lubold at

Appeared in the November 10, 2018, print edition as ‘White House Tensions Grow Over China.’



China pledges to open markets — Beijing scrambles to avert a trade war

March 27, 2018

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Premier makes promise even as Beijing calls on WTO members to unite against US moves

BEIJING • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China and the US should maintain negotiations and he reiterated pledges to ease access for American businesses, as Beijing scrambles to avert a trade war.

Mr Li made the comments yesterday even as China called on World Trade Organisation (WTO) members to unite to prevent the US from “wrecking” the WTO.

He told a conference that included global chief executives that China would treat foreign and domestic firms equally, would not force foreign firms to transfer technology and would strengthen intellectual property rights, repeating promises that have failed to placate Washington.

“With regard to trade imbalances, China and the United States should adopt a pragmatic and rational attitude, promote balancing through expansion of trade, and stick to negotiations to resolve differences and friction,” Mr Li said at the the China Development Forum, according to state radio.

The US asked China in a letter last week to cut a tariff on US cars, buy more US-made semiconductors and give US firms greater access to the Chinese financial sector, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing unidentified sources.

Alarm over a possible trade war between the world’s two largest economies has chilled financial markets as investors fear dire consequences should trade barriers go up due to US President Donald Trump’s bid to cut the US$375 billion (S$491 billion) trade deficit with China.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer listed steps they want China to take in a letter to newly appointed Vice-Premier Liu He, who oversees China’s economy, the Journal said, quoting sources with knowledge of the matter.

Despite a steady stream of fierce rhetoric from Chinese state media lambasting the US for being a “bully” and warning of retaliation, Chinese and US officials are busy negotiating behind the scenes.

China has offered to buy more US semiconductors by diverting some purchases from South Korea and Taiwan, the Financial Times reported, citing people briefed on the talks.

Chinese officials are also working to finalise rules by May – instead of the end of June – to allow foreign financial groups to take majority stakes in Chinese securities firms, the Financial Times said.

“I anticipate that for political reasons it would be logical for China to respond,” Blackstone Group chief executive Stephen Schwarzman told Reuters yesterday on the sidelines of the China Development Forum.

“That is why I view this more as a skirmish, and I think the interests of both countries are served by resolving some of these matters.”

Fears of a trade war mounted this month after Mr Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, and then last Thursday specifically targeted China by announcing plans for tariffs on up to US$60 billion of Chinese goods.

A US inquiry had found China guilty of intellectual property theft and unfair trade, by forcing US investors to turn over key technologies to Chinese firms. Last Friday, China responded to the US tariffs on steel and aluminium by declaring plans to levy additional duties on up to US$3 billion of US imports.

Yesterday, Beijing’s envoy Zhang Xiangchen told delegates at the Geneva-based WTO that Mr Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on Chinese goods under Section 301 of the 1974 US Trade Act broke WTO rules. “The US is setting a very bad precedent by bluntly breaching its commitment made to the world. WTO members should jointly prevent the resurrection of 301 investigations and lock this beast back into the cage of the WTO rules,” he said.

“Unilateralism is fundamentally incompatible with the WTO… The WTO is under siege, and all of us should lock arms to defend it.”



China hands out olive branch via Apple, Facebook and Tesla ahead of Trump’s Asia visit

October 31, 2017

Xi spoke to business advisers of Tsinghua University’s business school, including Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg.

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 1:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 8:26pm
South China Morning Post

Xi Jinping, a week into his second five-year term as China’s president, outlined a vision of openness, mutually beneficial cooperation and delicate diplomacy with the outside world, choosing to sound his thoughts out at a gathering of foreign business advisers in the country’s most prestigious university.

“China’s development offers opportunities for the world,” Xi said, according to a transcript by state news agency Xinhua. China’s economic reform is not a zero-sum game of “winners and losers, but about creating win-win situations through cooperation,” he said.

The Chinese president’s message was delivered to an audience that included Americans that make up the who’s who of US business and industry. Specifically, Xi had in his mind Donald Trump, whose administration refused on Monday to qualify China as a market economy, taking to scold America’s second-biggest trading partner days before the US president is due for his first visit to China since taking office.

“I am looking forward to President Trump’s upcoming visit to China,” Xi said. China is willing to work with the US to “look after each other’s interests and concerns and to properly solve disputes and contradictions,” the Chinese president said, striking a different tone to the US Commerce Department memo that argued for disqualifying China. “We have an optimistic attitude toward the prospects for China-US relations,” he said.

Much is at stake for Trump’s China trip, as the US ran a US$347 billion trade deficit with China last year. It’s a widening gap that generations of US presidents since the 1980s have sought to close. Trump had boasted on the presidential campaign trail of his ability to get a better deal out of trade negotiations with China, and had promised to bring American jobs home and close its trade gap.

The US Commerce Department memo, taken in conjunction with US investigations into Chinese aluminium foil exports, reinforces the argument that China doesn’t yet qualify to be regarded as a market economy in the adjudication of trade disputes and dumping cases. Under World Trade Organisation rules, countries that don’t regard China as “market economies” are entitled to levy higher tariffs on Chinese exports.

Great to be a member of Tsinghua SEM with Tim Cook, Robin Li, Jack Ma, Pony Ma, Elon Musk, Satya Nadella, Masa Son, Mark Zuckerberg…

“At its core, the framework of China’s economy is set by the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, which exercise control directly and indirectly over the allocation of resources through instruments such as government ownership and control of key economic actors and government directives,” the US Commerce Department said, according to a Bloomberg report.

Zhu Rongji, China’s premier from 1998 to 2003 and a Tsingua alumnus, is honorary chairman of the advisory board to his alma mater’s business school, founded in 1984.

Wang Qishan, who stepped down last week as China’s anti-corruption tsar, is an honorary member of the board. Liu He, chief economic advisor to Xi, and China’s bank regulator Guo Shuqing are also members of the advisory board.

Several Americans sit on the board, including Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, Goldman Sachs’ chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, Dell Technologies’ chairman Michael Dell, Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk and Blackstone’s chairman Stephen Schwarzman.

Foxconn Technology’s founder Terry Gou, Li & Fung’s honorary chairman Victor Fung, Temasek Holdings’ chief executive Ho Ching, Tencent Holdings’ founder Pony Ma Huateng, Baidu’s chairman Robin Li Yanhong and Alibaba Group Holdings’ chairman Jack Ma Yun are also members of the board.

The meeting comes at a particularly key time for Apple as it prepares to launch its much-anticipated iPhone X, amid hopes the anniversary smartphone can revive the firm’s shrinking sales in the world’s largest phone market.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg has also been very active in China, eager to get his social network unblocked in China, where it has been banned since 2009. The world’s largest social media network finds itself playing catch up with Tencent’s WeChat service, known as Weixin in mainland China, which already has 938 million users who rely on it everyday for everything from chatting to exchanging spreadsheets to hailing rides and pay for utilities.

An Apple spokeswoman said the firm couldn’t “comment on Tim’s schedule and or meetings”. Facebook confirmed Zuckerberg was in Beijing, but declined to comment on details of his visit.

In a post on his Facebook page on Saturday, Zuckerberg wrote he was in Beijing for the annual meeting. “Every year this trip is a great way to keep up with the pace of innovation and entrepreneurship in China,” he said.

The Chinese president was ambiguous in response, citing a proverb that can be translated into “goodwill remains even if a deal is not done,” that could as easily apply to Sino-US trade, as with Facebook’s application to roll out its full service in China.

With additional reporting by Reuters


China’s Xi meets Zuckerberg, Cook in Beijing

October 31, 2017


© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | Zuckerberg has made a big show of courting China’s leadership in hopes of convincing Beijing to relax its ban on Facebook

BEIJING (AFP) – Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, state media said Tuesday, as the Communist Party pushes for a larger role in private firms.

The meeting came days after Xi secured his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao and as Facebook seeks to gain entry to the massive market.

“As a beneficiary of and contributor to economic globalisation, China’s development is the opportunity for the world,” Xi told the annual gathering of advisers to Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Under Xi, the Communist Party has increasingly tightened its grip on state-owned companies and has asked foreign firms to include party cells in their offices.

The move has raised concerns that the party may try to create alternative power structures within companies and potentially exercise control over management decisions, as it has in the case of state-owned enterprises.

Of the more than one hundred thousand foreign-funded companies in China, 70 percent had set up party organisations by the end of 2016, according to Qi Yu, deputy head of the party’s Organisation Department.

Foreign companies regularly complain about the lack of access to Chinese markets and Zuckerberg in particular has made a big show of courting the country’s top leadership in hopes of convincing Beijing to relax its ban on Facebook.

The Silicon Valley entrepreneur has been photographed with a collection of Xi’s writings and happily jogging across Tiananmen Square in choking pollution. He has also given a lecture in China in halting Chinese.

The company has recently begun staffing up on the mainland, but appears to have made little progress in convincing Beijing to change its mind, a prospect that seems even less likely as the country tightens social media controls.

Tsinghua University’s business school has attracted a bevy of A-list advisers from the worlds of tech and finance, including Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, and Tesla’s Elon Musk, as well as China’s own leading entrepreneurs, such as Alibaba’s Jack Ma.

Trump says US culture, history being ‘ripped apart’

August 17, 2017


© ProPublica/AFP/File / by Chris Lefkow | Workers load statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on a flatbed truck after they were removed from a public park in Baltimore, Maryland

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A defiant President Donald Trump shrugged off a barrage of bipartisan criticism on Thursday and said US culture and history were being “ripped apart” by the removal of Confederate statues.Trump waded back into the charged racial debate over monuments to the pro-slavery South with a volley of tweets doubling down on his controversial remarks of the past few days.

Trump has come under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike for saying that anti-racism protestors deserved equal blame for violence last weekend at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, held to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 other people injured when a man suspected of being a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Moves to remove statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy have gained momentum since the Charlottesville violence with monuments coming down in Baltimore and other cities.

Trump, echoing remarks he first made earlier this week, made it clear he opposed the campaign.

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” Trump said.

“You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!” he said.

“Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” he said.

Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson were Confederate generals while George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were among the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Trump critics were quick to point out the difference.

“Dear @realDonaldTrump: Robert Lee and Stonewall Jackson are not the same as Washington and Jefferson. Can’t believe I had to write that sentence,” said Ted Lieu, a Democratic congressman from California.

– Trump hits critics, media –

Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, told The New York Times that he believed the president’s views were shared by many Americans.

“President Trump, by asking, ‘Where does this all end’ — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln? — connects with the American people about their history, culture and traditions,” Bannon said.

“The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it’s all racist,? Bannon said. “Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can’t get enough of it.”

Trump on Thursday also lashed out at two leading Republican critics in the Senate and accused the media of distorting his views.

“The public is learning (even more so) how dishonest the Fake News is,” he said. “They totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry. etc. Shame!”

On Monday Trump singled out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis as “repugnant,” but on Tuesday he said counter-protestors in Charlottesville had been “very violent” and equally responsible for the violence.

Trump’s weak condemnation of the racist far-right set off a political firestorm across the US political spectrum. World leaders also criticized Trump’s response.

Trump was forced to scrap two White House economic advisory councils on Wednesday as top businessmen began abandoning him to protest his stance on the racial debate.

The president took aim at two fellow Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona, in a series of tweets.

“Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists… and people like Ms. Heyer,” Trump said.

Heather Heyer, 32, was the woman killed by the suspected white nationalist in Charlottesville.

Graham had said the US president “took a step backward” Tuesday “by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally” and people like Heyer.

Trump also blasted Flake, one of the few Republicans openly critical of the president, saying he was “WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate.”

“He’s toxic!” Trump tweeted.

Flake, who is running for re-election in Arizona, wrote Tuesday: “We can’t accept excuses for white supremacy & acts of domestic terrorism. We must condemn. Period.”

by Chris Lefkow

Trump decries monument removals, ‘history ripped apart

August 17, 2017


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump bitingly decried the rising movement to pull down monuments to Confederate icons Thursday, declaring the nation is seeing “the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart.”

Trump’s new remarks came even as the White house tried to manage his increasing isolation and the continued fallout from his combative comments on last weekend’s racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He also tore into fellow Republicans who have criticized his statements on race and politics, fanning the controversy toward a full-fledged national conflagration.

Pressured by advisers, the president had taken a step back from the dispute on Monday, two days after he had enraged many by declining to single out the white supremacists and neo-Nazis whose demonstration against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statute had led to violence and the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville.

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A sheriff’s deputy stands near the toppled statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the old Durham County Courthouse in North Carolina. Reuters photo

He returned to his combative stance on Wednesday — insisting anew that “both sides” were to blame. And then in a burst of tweets on Thursday he renewed his criticism of efforts to remove memorials and tributes to the Civil War Confederacy.

“You can’t change history, but you can learn from it,” he tweeted. “Robert E. Lee. Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish. …

“Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”

He wasn’t talking about beauty in earlier tweets, lashing at GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

He accused “publicity-seeking” Graham of falsely stating his position on the demonstrators, called Flake “toxic” and praised a Flake primary election opponent.

Graham said Wednesday that Trump “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency” between the marching white supremacists and the people who had been demonstrating against them. And Flake has been increasingly critical of Trump in recent weeks.

Other Republicans, including the most powerful in Congress, have been making strong statements on Charlottesville and racism, but few have been mentioning Trump himself.

The Senate’s top Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, condemned “hate and bigotry.” House Speaker Paul Ryan charged that, “White supremacy is repulsive.” But neither criticized the president’s insistence that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the violent weekend clash in Virginia.

The nuanced statements reflect the party establishment’s delicate dance. Few top Republican officeholders want to defend the president in the midst of an escalating political crisis, yet they are unwilling to declare all-out opposition to him and risk alienating his loyalists.

In another major sign of discontent within the Republican Party, Trump abruptly abolished two of his White House business councils Wednesday as corporate chiefs began resigning in protest of his racial statements.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump tweeted from New York. His action came after one of the panels had already agreed to disband earlier in the day.

The White House is trying to deal with the repercussions from Trump’s defiant remarks on the Virginia tragedy. Advisers hunkered down, offering no public defense while privately expressing frustration with his comments.

But Trump himself, staying at his golf club in New Jersey, was increasing rather than slowing his tweet-a-thon.

On Wednesday, he had told associates he was pleased with how his combative press conference had gone a day earlier, saying he believed he had effectively stood up to the media, according to three people familiar with the conversations who demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about them.

Business leaders felt differently.

Denise Morrison, chief executive of Campbell Soup, declared she was leaving Trump’s manufacturing council, saying, “The president should have been — and still needs to be — unambiguous” in denouncing white supremacists.

CEOs had begun tendering their resignations from White House panels after Trump’s initial comments following the Saturday violence. The first to step down, Kenneth Frazier of Merck, drew a Twitter tongue-lashing from the president. Later, Trump called those who were leaving “grandstanders” and insisted many others were eager to take their places.

Members of the Strategy and Policy group, led by Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, concluded after a 45-minute conference call in the morning that they would end the council and announce their decision in a statement, according to two people familiar with the discussions. They insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.

In a subsequent call with Trump, the president agreed it was the right course of action. He tweeted before they could announce the decision they’d reached — making it appear it was his choice.

Publicly criticizing the president and resigning from his councils is a significant step for big-name corporate leaders. Though the policy influence of such advisory groups is sometimes questionable, simply meeting with Trump with TV cameras going is valuable face-time for the executives — and for the president.


Bykowicz reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville in Bridgewater, new Jersey, and Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report.

US says must have more ‘fair, reciprocal’ trade with China

July 19, 2017


© AFP | Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross (L to R) open trade talks, with the US officials demanding more ‘fair and reciprocal’ trade with China

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US launched its first round of trade talks with China since Donald Trump took office in an unusually blunt manner Wednesday, demanding more “fair, equitable and reciprocal” relationship, with more access to American made goods and services.Noting the more than 200 percent surge in Chinese exports to the United States in the last 15 years, creating a trade deficit of $309 billion last year, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insisted change was necessary.

“If this were just the natural product of free market forces, we could understand it, but it’s not,” Ross said in the opening ceremony of the one-day meeting between the world’s top two economies.

“So it is time to rebalance our trade and investment relationship in a more fair, equitable and reciprocal manner.”

The talks are a continuation of the process undertaken by the previous two administrations, which the Trump administration has rebranded as the US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue (CED).

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the talks with the Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang would focus on concrete steps to provide greater access and a “level playing field” for US companies to the world’s second largest market.

“We need to work together to maximize the benefit for both sides. But this is only possible if there is a more fair and balanced economic relationship between the US and China,” Mnuchin said.

“It means addressing the imbalances cause by the Chinese intervention in its economy,” he said, adding: “A more balanced economic relationship will create prosperity for our two countries and the world.”

During his campaign, Trump attacked China for unfair trade practices, but his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Florida resort in April prompted a change of rhetoric and the launch of a 100-day economic cooperation plan.

That led to specific but narrow achievements, including opening the Chinese market to US beef exports, and pledges to remove barriers to US credit card transactions, credit ratings, and other financial services, including bond underwriting, that were to be concluded prior to Wednesday’s talks.

Wang said the key point about the meeting is the two countries are “having dialogue, not confrontation.”

“We don’t need to defeat each other in handling differences,” he cautioned, stressing that “confrontation will immediately damage the interests of both” countries.

Wang quoted a passage from Trump’s 2009 business advice book “Think Like a Champion” — which in turn was quoting industry pioneer Henry Ford — saying, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

“China is ready to work together.”


Chinese, US executives call for ‘prompt resolution’ of economic rows amid fears of trade war

July 19, 2017

Negotiations the best way to resolve long-standing economic disputes between the two superpowers, says top officials at US-China business leaders summit in Washington

By Zhenhua Lu, US correspondent
South China Morning Post

Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 4:04pm

es of Chinese and American companies have urged their governments to promptly resolve trade disputes through “effective negotiation” amid concerns that the two nations are heading towards a trade war.

Twenty business leaders made the appeal during the first US-China Business Leaders Summit held at the US Commerce Department in Washington on Tuesday.

The event was co-chaired by the head of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Jack Ma, and the chief executive of the US investment and financial services firm Blackstone, Stephen Schwarzman.

“While respecting the use of traditional trade remedies, we hope that trade disputes can be resolved through effective negotiation with both sides working for prompt resolution,” a statement from the summit said.

 Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Photo: Xinhua

The call came after US President Donald Trump said last week he was mulling slapping steel import quotas and tariffs on China.

“They’re dumping steel and destroying our steel industry, they’ve been doing it for decades and I’m stopping it. There are two ways – quotas and tariffs. Maybe I’ll do both,” he told reporters.

The appeal by the business executives also came a day before the US and Chinese government officials are to hold the first high-level Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, co-chaired by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang.

The talks are one of four mechanisms aimed at increasing dialogue set up by China’s President Xi Jinping and Trump during their summit meeting in Florida early April.

During his presidential campaign last year, Trump blamed China for dumping low-priced steel on the American marketplace. He also said the US’ huge trade deficit with China was due to unfair Chinese trading practices.

The business leaders’ summit statement said the best way to resolve the two countries’ trade disputes was through negotiation.

“We call on political leaders in the United States and China to strengthen cooperation and dialogue on regulation and supervision, standards, protection of intellectual property rights; free, fair and open market access and to eliminate procedures and practices that act as a hindrance to economic growth and job creation,” the summit statement said.

Ma also said that in all deep and complex economic relationships, disputes whether on trade or investment were natural and expected.

“In these areas, we should encourage our governments to use existing mechanisms to resolve these disputes respectfully and efficiently,” he said.

Ma’s Alibaba Group, the world’s largest e-commerce platform, owns the South China Morning Post.

The summit statement was also signed by other top US business executives such as Jamie Dimon, the chairman of JPMorgan Chase; Jim Umpleby, chief executive of Caterpillar; Doug McMillon, the president of Walmart and Mary Barra, the chairman of General Motors.

Chinese businessmen including Zhang Jindong, the chairman of the retail firm Suning; and Frank Ning, the chairman Sinochem, also signed the statement.

US Commerce Secretary Ross told the summit there were “serious imbalances” between the US and Chinese economies that “must be rectified”.

However, the private sector was “best equipped to carry the ball across the goal line”, he said.

 Blackstone Group chairman and chief executive Stephen Schwarzman. Photo: Reuters

After Trump and Xi met in Florida in April, the US president spoke of having “great chemistry” with Xi and agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks with China.

But Trump’s patience with Beijing appears to be waning after he lashed out at China last week, accusing it of dumping steel on the US market.

Chinese Vice-Premier Wang also attended the US-China Business Council meeting on Tuesday and tried to play down the possibility of a trade war with the US.

He credited the US business community’s “long-standing support and active participation” with “helping to create an atmosphere in favour of cooperation rather than confrontation for China-US business ties”.

He said “twists and turns in our cooperation going forward” were part of the countries’ evolving relationship.

The two nations agreed in May to allow the US to export beef and natural gas to China and for some financial services to expand in the Chinese market.

Analyst said, however that efforts to reduce the US trade deficit with China have so far produced few results.

 US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross attended the business summit. Photo: Reuters

“On the economic side [of negotiation], there is progress, but very limited,” said Scott Kennedy, a China specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“The Trump administration has become dissatisfied and lost a little bit of patience with China on some of these things.”

Possible tariffs on large foreign steel exporters, including China, could be potentially be up to 20 per cent range, according Axios, a US news and information website.

The report also said tariffs could eventually be extended to other imports, including aluminium and semiconductors.

Image result for Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to Washington, photos

Cui Tiankai

Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to Washington, warned the US last week of “troubling developments” between the two sides that could derail their relationship.

Cui did not make a detailed list of the problems, but did suggest he would like to improve the US’ process of reviewing foreign investments.

 A file picture of Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang (centre). Photo: Xinhua

“I’m afraid the people behind such actions are either those who refuse to let go and update their mindset or those who play selfish political games, regardless of the big picture,” Cui said. “If they succeed, China-US relations could derail.”

Cui also called on governors of US states to “make efforts to resume the negotiations and conclude the BIT”, an investment treaty between China and the US.

The Trump administration appears reluctant to restart the treaty negotiations.

US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said in June that the treaty was “on our agenda. I would not say it’s on the top of our agenda”.

Deborah Lehr, a senior fellow at the US think tank the Paulson Institute, said China was still interested in negotiating the treaty while the Trump administration was waiting to see how the next 100 days go.

“The administration has said that if they are not able to make progress on minor issues with China, then there’s no reason to pick up the negotiations,” she said.