China will tackle US trade dispute in 2019: commerce minister

Without a resolution, punitive US duty rates on $200 billion in Chinese goods are due to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent on March 2. (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2019
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China will tackle US trade dispute in 2019: commerce minister

  • ‘We will properly handle the China-US economic and trade frictions’ this year, commerce minister Zhong Shan said
  • China’s policymakers have long promised a more open and free market with better protections for foreign investors

BEIJING: China will work to straighten out trade frictions with the US this year, the country’s commerce minister told state media, following talks with US negotiators this week.
A large US delegation ended a three-day visit to Beijing Wednesday in the first face to face trade talks since President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in December pledged a three-month truce in the escalating tariff spat.
China said the talks had “laid the foundation” to resolve mutual concerns on trade.
“We will properly handle the China-US economic and trade frictions” this year, commerce minister Zhong Shan said, according to a Saturday report by state media outlet Xinhua.
Zhong said Beijing will also promote outside investment, work to pass a foreign investment law and improve its dispute resolution system, Xinhua reported.
China’s policymakers have long promised a more open and free market with better protections for foreign investors, but officials have been slow to make good on those pledges — leading the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China to coin the term “promise fatigue.”
Zhong said China’s negative list — which restricts investment in certain industries — will be further slimmed down; while Beijing also intends to expand economic sectors open for foreign investment without the need for a Chinese joint-venture partner.
The minister specifically outlined a push for foreign investment in manufacturing, high-tech industries and investment in China’s inner regions — pledges that are similar to promises made last year.
Pushing Beijing to implement economic reforms and further open up areas for US investment is a focus in trade negotiations with Washington.


‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

Updated 44 min ago
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‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

  • This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei
  • Another critical partner, ARM Holdings, said it was complying with the US restrictions

BEIJING: While Huawei’s founder brushes aside a US ban against his company, the telecom giant’s employees have been less sanguine, confessing fears for their future in online chat rooms.
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei declared this week the company has a hoard of microchips and the ability to make its own in order to withstand a potentially crippling US ban on using American components and software in its products.
“If you really want to know what’s going on with us, you can visit our Xinsheng Community,” Ren told Chinese media, alluding to Huawei’s internal forum partially open to viewers outside the company.
But a peek into Xinsheng shows his words have not reassured everyone within the Shenzhen-based company.
“During difficult times, what should we do as individuals?” posted an employee under the handle Xiao Feng on Thursday.
“At home reduce your debts and maintain enough cash,” Xiao Feng wrote.
“Make a plan for your financial assets and don’t be overly optimistic about your remuneration and income.”
This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei as a result of the ban.
Another critical partner, ARM Holdings — a British designer of semiconductors owned by Japanese group Softbank — said it was complying with the US restrictions.
“On its own Huawei can’t resolve this problem, we need to seek support from government policy,” one unnamed employee wrote last week, in a post that received dozens of likes and replies.
The employee outlined a plan for China to block off its smartphone market from all American components much in the same way Beijing fostered its Internet tech giants behind a “Great Firewall” that keeps out Google, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other foreign companies.
“Our domestic market is big enough, we can use this opportunity to build up domestic suppliers and our ecosystem,” the employee wrote.
For his part, Ren advocated the opposite response in his interview with Chinese media.
“We should not promote populism; populism is detrimental to the country,” he said, noting that his family uses Apple products.
Other employees strategized ways to circumvent the US ban.
One advocated turning to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao to buy the needed components. Another dangled the prospect of setting up dozens of new companies to make purchases from US suppliers.
Many denounced the US and proposed China ban McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and all-American movies and TV shows.
“First time posting under my real name: we must do our jobs well, advance and retreat with our company,” said an employee named Xu Jin.
The tech ban caps months of US effort to isolate Huawei, whose equipment Washington fears could be used as a Trojan horse by Chinese intelligence services.
Still, last week Trump indicated he was willing to include a fix for Huawei in a trade deal that the two economic giants have struggled to seal and US officials issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban.
In Xinsheng, an employee with the handle Youxin lamented: “I want to advance and retreat alongside the company, but then my boss told me to pack up and go,” followed by two sad-face emoticons.