Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."
The sixth round of high-level economic and trade consultations between China and the United States have wrapped up in Beijing, with China’s President Xi Jinping meeting the American delegation for the first time since the tensions between the two countries escalated in February last year.
President Xi repeatedly spoke of "cooperation" during the meeting. He said China always hoped that this dispute could be resolved through cooperation. He also pointed out "there are principles in cooperation," making the point that China's core interests aren’t on the table to be traded away.
China’s President Xi Jinping (center) meets with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday, February 15, 2019, after the conclusion of a new round of high-level economic and trade consultations. [Photo: Xinhua]
During this round of consultations in Beijing, both sides had in-depth exchanges on topics such as technology transfers, intellectual property protections, non-tariff barriers, agriculture policy, the balance of trade, and implementation mechanism for final deal. Based on the information that is available, it seems that the area of common ground is growing, while the list of differences is shrinking.
The two sides also sketched out a memorandum of understanding, which suggests that the talks have reached the stage of drafting an agreement that could serve as a framework for a deal, which is an encouraging development. And both sides decided to continue talks in Washington next week, which is a further sign both sides are keen to reach a deal before the March 1deadline.
This steady progress not only serves the interests of the countries on either side of the negotiating table – it also benefits the rest of the world. Major stock markets went higher ahead of and immediately after the meetings, signaling that market players are looking forward to both countries reaching a deal.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, complicated economic and trade issues between the world’s two biggest economies can’t be entirely solved within months. The 40-year-long diplomatic relationship has had its moments of crisis, but these have been defused thanks to the wisdom of the leadership from both sides. The news spread from the US that the two leaders will soon meet again gives the world more reasons for being optimistic about the two sides reaching a fair and mutually beneficial agreement.