US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Chinese leaders his plans to lead a senior level trade mission to China, as well as further expressed support for the reduction of trade imbalance.
On Monday, Premier Li Keqiang and other high ranking officials met Ross as a part of the preparation for US president Donald Trump’s scheduled visit to Asia in November, according to a statement by the Commerce Department.
During that visit, Ross emphasized the need for the Asian trade partner to “guarantee fair and reciprocal treatment for US firms,” while trying to maintain an upbeat tone in spite of the lingering tensions between the US and China.
Moreover, Ross also stressed his intention to increase “exports of high-value US goods and services to China and improve market access” in order to cut the US trade deficit within China, which is the world’s largest exporter. He also urged the leaders to take “meaningful actions” on trade issues.
“Secretary Ross once again continued to stress the need for concrete action to address the concerns of US businesses, and that the US would take action to defend American workers and businesses if cooperative efforts bear no fruit,” said the Commerce Department.
Meanwhile, the Chinese officials emphasized the importance of dialogue in connection to unilateral action, saying that Beijing would have to respond in kind to any potential US action. The two sides both agreed that trade frictions should be resolved through negotiation.
Among the officials that Ross met were Vice Premier Wang Yang, who handles a yearly US-China economic dialogue, and He Lifeng. Lifeng is the head of China’s state planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission. Beijing is Ross’ first stop on a 6-day Asian trip that will include visits to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Vientiane, Laos.
The US-China relationship has been under strains due to Trump’s criticisms that are aimed at China’s trade practices, aside from the US government’s demand that Beijing ramp up efforts in pressuring North Korea to quit its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Trump has recently called North Korea’s leader as “Rocket Man” in a Twitter spree.
Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping met for the first time in the flesh at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate located in Florida last April. In spite of the continual criticism Trump throws at China over North Korea and trade, he has since played up his personal relationship with the Chinese leader.
Ross’ trip to China is to “prepare the ground” for the US president.
This trip comes after the US administration blocked Chinese-backed private equity firm Canyon Bridge Capital Partners’ planned $1.3 billion acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corp, an Oregon-based semiconductor manufacturer. The US cited security threats as reasons for this interference.
Furthermore, a European Union chamber recently urged China to open up its market and provide reciprocal access to its market or there would be a backlash against economic globalization.
In August, the US government authorized an inquiry into the Asian giant’s alleged theft of intellectual property. This is the first direct trade measure made by the Trump administration against China. China has called the move “irresponsible.”
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