china trade war
November 5, 2019

A joint law enforcement investigation between the United States and China may help inch the two countries closer to a long-anticipated trade deal, Bloomberg reports.

The investigation reportedly revolves around fentanyl smuggling, and China's National Narcotics Control Commission is expected to hold a press conference Thursday about the case, in which officers from both countries will reportedly give a briefing on their cooperation. Fentanyl is a highly addictive painkiller that has played a central role in the opioid crisis, leading to thousands of deaths in the U.S.

Washington has criticized Beijing in the past for not doing enough to stop nefarious opioid smuggling practices, and President Trump has specifically called out Chinese President Xi Jinping for failing to live up to a promise to crack down on the practice. But the recent cooperation on the smuggling front may help swing the negotiation pendulum back in the right direction. Bloomberg notes the concession from China, could help Trump sell his negotiation tactics to struggling farms, the U.S. business community, and trade hardliners within his own administration. Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

October 8, 2019

On Monday, the U.S. and China resumed high-level trade talks in Washington after a two-month hiatus and the U.S. blacklisted 28 Chinese organizations, barring them from buying goods from U.S. companies without government permission. The addition of the 28 local government agencies and tech companies to the Commerce Department's Entity List, combined with skeptical comments from China and President Trump, dimmed the prospects for a breakthrough in the U.S-China trade war, Reuters reports.

The Commerce Department said the 28 blacklisted agencies and companies "have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups." China has detained an estimated 1 million Uighurs in Xinjiang province and placed them in prison-like "vocational training centers."

The blacklisted government agencies are in Xinjiang and the tech companies include Hikvision, one of the world's largest surveillance equipment manufacturers, and other surveillance and facial-recognition software firms.

The trade negotiations kicked off Monday, but Vice Premier Liu He will meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer starting Thursday for high-level negotiations. Tariffs on Chinese imports are scheduled rise again next week. Trump said Monday that "there's a chance we could do something very substantial," but he would "much prefer a big deal." Peter Weber

August 26, 2019

President Trump said Monday that unidentified Chinese officials had indicated overnight they want to resume trade talks. "China called last night our top trade people and said, 'Let's get back to the table', so we'll be getting back to the table, and I think they want to do something," Trump told reporters on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France. He said his trade team fielded two "very good calls" from China, adding, "This is the first time I've seen them where they really want to make a deal. And I think that's a very positive step." Trump wouldn't say if he's been in direct contact with Chinese President Xi Jinping, though he called Xi "a great leader."

China's lead U.S. trade negotiator did say earlier Monday that Beijing is willing to resolve the trade war through "calm negotiation." Before Trump's comments, stock indices around the world were sharply lower on uncertainty about the U.S.-China trade war and what Trump might say. Peter Weber

August 17, 2019

Delays, delays, delays.

The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to grant Huawei a 90-day extension that permits the Chinese technology firm to buy supplies from U.S. companies, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters. The reason behind the extension is so that Huawei can service existing customers. The agreement, which was set to lapse on Aug. 19, will allow Huawei to maintain existing telecommunications networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets.

The U.S. blacklisted Huawei earlier this year, alleging the company could potentially harm U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. Reuters reports that the decision to grant Huawei the temporary reprieve could change by Monday. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss the firm in a call this weekend.

It's the second significant delay this week amid the ongoing trade war between Beijing and Washington. On Tuesday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced certain products would not be subject to a 10 percent tariff on Chinese imports to the U.S. until after the holiday season. Huawei throws another wrinkle into the U.S.'s plan, as analysts question what the concessions might mean for potential future negotiations.

Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

August 5, 2019

China's central bank, the People's Bank of China, allowed the yuan to breach the psychologically important rate of 7 to the U.S. dollar on Monday, pushing the Chinese currency to its weakest level in a decade, The New York Times reports. The People's Bank of China, which tightly controls the value of the yuan (or renminbi), cited "unilateralism and trade protectionism measures and the imposition of increased tariffs on China," but said currencies fluctuate and the renminbi is stable.

Worries about the ongoing U.S.-China trade war sent U.S. stock futures plunging early Monday morning. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 300 points, or 1.2 percent, MarketWatch reports. Futures for the Nasdaq and S&P 500 were down 1.7 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. Last week, President Trump surprised Wall Street by announcing additional 10 percent tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods, set to take effect in September.

China's currency news is "fueling concern Beijing might use its currency as a weapon in the tariff war," Fox Business reports. Peter Weber

July 30, 2019

The U.S. and China on Tuesday start a new round of trade negotiations, two months after talks on ending the tariff war between the world's two biggest economies broke down. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday with a Chinese delegation headed by Vice Premier Liu He in Shanghai.

Expectations are low, The Associated Press reports, as China is resisting U.S. demands for Beijing to stop forcing U.S. companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to Chinese markets, while the Trump administration is balking at China's insistence that any deal immediately lift all new U.S. tariffs. "The same issues that caused the talks to break down are still there," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics. Harold Maass

June 2, 2019

China is ready for a trade war if necessary, a government policy paper released by Beijing on Sunday said.

The paper blamed the United States for a breakdown in trade negotiations and accused the Trump administration's "America First" program and use of tariffs of hurting the global economy. In recent days China has threatened to bar the export of rare earth metals to the U.S. and create a blacklist of American companies and individuals, and launched in an investigation into FedEx after Chinese tech giant Huawei said the delivery company misdirected some of its packages. FedEx said the the incident was a mistake and is willing to cooperate with the investigation.

Despite the escalating tensions, though, the policy paper also suggested China remains willing to return to the negotiating table. "What truly matters is how to enhance mutual trust, promote cooperation, and manage differences," it said. China's Vice Commerce Secretary Wang Shouwen echoed that sentiment, telling reporters Beijing is willing to adopt a "cooperative approach" toward settling upon an agreement. Tim O'Donnell

May 29, 2019

Chinese media organizations, including the flagship Communist Party newspaper, strongly hinted Wednesday that Beijing is about to use its dominance of the rare earths market to strike back at the U.S. in the growing trade war. Rare earths, a group of 17 chemical elements, are used to make smartphones and other electronics, military equipment, and electric vehicles, among other goods, and the U.S. relies on China for about 80 percent of its supply. President Trump's administration excluded rare earths from its list of Chinese imports subject to tariffs.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visits to a rare earths plant with his lead trade negotiator last week sparked speculation that China was getting ready to use its dominance of the rare earths market as leverage in the trade war. The editor in chief of the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times newspaper tweeted that China is "seriously" considering restricting rare earths exports to the U.S., and an official at the state planning agency dropped a similar hint.

"The U.S. side wants to use the products made by China's exported rare earths to counter and suppress China's development. The Chinese people will never accept this!" China's official state People's Daily newspaper said in an editorial on Wednesday. "We advise the U.S. side not to underestimate the Chinese side's ability to safeguard its development rights and interests. Don't say we didn't warn you!" Official Chinese media uses "Don't say we didn't warn you" sparingly, to warn rivals over serious areas of disagreement, like border disputes, Reuters reports. Peter Weber

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