What messages does the latest Sino-U.S. trade talk convey?
Li Yong

Editor's note: On January 31, after two days of arduous negotiations, the new round of economic and trade consultations between China and the United States was concluded. How to evaluate the outcome of the latest negotiation? Li Yong, a current affairs commentator and senior fellow at the China Association of International Trade, shared his views with CGTN.

CGTN: According to Xinhua News Agency, the latest round of China-U.S. trade talks made "important progress" for the current stage, and the two sides had "candid, specific and constructive" discussions. How to understand the meaning of "candid, specific and constructive"?

Li: So far, China and the United States have conducted several rounds of negotiations, reflecting the efforts of both sides to promote the resolution of this issue and the goodwill to properly solve this problem. This time, the two sides talked more details and provided reasonable and optimistic perspective for resolving Sino-U.S. trade disputes.

 "Candid" means that the two sides do not shy away from the problems and face up to the differences and disputes. Although the two sides view the issue differently, they put the problems on the table, understand the differences between the two countries, seek the entry point, and find a solution.

Take intellectual property protection as an example. Solving this problem also meets the needs of China's development, in line with the interests of both sides. "Constructive" means that the two sides are not entangled in differences and are willing to find a solution acceptable to both parties.

CGTN: On issues such as technology transfer and intellectual property protection, the two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation. What needs to be done to solve these divergent problems?

Li: I believe that we will find solutions to these problems eventually. China has made great efforts and introduced a number of bills on intellectual property protection, together with the newly published foreign investment law and so on.

Most of the time, the lack of trust makes the problem difficult to solve. I mean that the U.S. always has doubts about China's sincerity, and this excessive mistrust is unnecessary. It actually becomes an obstacle to solve problems. I believe that increasing trust is the cornerstone of improving Sino-U.S. trade relations. China has done a lot, and the United States should have more faith in China's commitment.

CGTN: According to Xinhua News Agency, the U.S. President Donald Trump has an optimistic take on this high-level Sino-U.S. trade talks in Washington, hailing the “tremendous progress” in meeting with Liu He. He also expects to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and witness the historical moment of reaching a final deal on trade issues. How do you evaluate this statement? 

Li: After the G20 meeting in Argentina, Trump's position has been relatively consistent. This time his remarks are no exception. He has always been concerned about the positive factors of the negotiations between the two sides, although his aides make some noise from time to time. 

CGTN: Given the volatility and uncertainties of the U.S. policies in the past two years, should China expect the best and plan for the worst? 

Li: The U.S. should see that China's sincerity has not changed. Although the U.S. sometimes swings in its policies, after such a long period of consultations and negotiations, it should also notice the consistency of China's position, which is properly resolving differences and disputes in the spirit of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.

The U.S. must stress credibility when dealing with other countries. If it lacks consistency in its tactics and strategy and makes unrealistic demands, increasing uncertainties for the talks, which will eventually lead the negotiations nowhere. In that case, it won't be China to blame. China will not change its own stance despite the unpredictable changes from the U.S. side. The cooperation between China and the U.S. will benefit both while fighting against each other will only cause trouble.

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