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China won’t submit to US threats as trade talks begin

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China won’t succumb to “threats” from the US, a senior government official said, hours before talks are set to begin Thursday with a delegation of the Trump administration’s top trade policy officials.

[BEIJING] China won’t succumb to “threats” from the US, a senior government official said, hours before talks are set to begin Thursday with a delegation of the Trump administration’s top trade policy officials.

The official said the government won’t accept any US preconditions for negotiations such as abandoning its long-term advanced manufacturing ambitions or narrowing the trade gap by US$100 billion, said the official, who asked not to be named, citing protocol.

Trump administration officials this week have already lowered expectations for a breakthrough, saying the trip could be cut short if it’s not satisfactory and that President Donald Trump will have the final say on accepting any deals.

China’s unique political system and centralised leadership mean that it will have more endurance should a trade war break out, the official said. China won’t compromise on its core interests, and is prepared for all possible outcomes of the meeting, the official said, declining to give further details of the talks.

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Vice-Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to President Xi Jinping, will lead the delegation meeting on Thursday and Friday with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House advisers Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro.

Tensions between the two biggest economies have been rising as the US banned sales of crucial American technology to telecommunications-gear maker ZTE Corp and is said to be probing Huawei Technologies Co, China’s largest mobile and telecommunications company.

Mr Xi said on Wednesday China must firmly control major technologies and rely on domestic innovation, echoing comments from days earlier when he used a visit to a semiconductor company in Wuhan to say the industry must make major breakthroughs.

The official Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary on Wednesday that the US should show sincerity in trade talks instead of making unreasonable demands. China will take retaliatory steps of the same intensity if the US puts tariffs on its goods after the talks, Xinhua said.

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