China and US discuss plans for trade talks

China and US discuss plans for trade talks
In this courtroom sketch, Meng Wanzhou, right, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, sits beside a translator during a bail hearing at British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver last week. Pic: Jane Wolsak/The Canadian Press via AP

China's economy tsar and the US Treasury secretary have discussed plans for talks on a tariff battle, the government in Beijing said.

In an indicating negotiations are going ahead despite tension over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive, vice premier Liu He and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked by phone about "the promotion of the next economic and trade consultations," a Commerce Ministry statement said.

The announcement indicated talks are on track despite China's weekend threats of unspecified "grave consequences" if the Huawei Technologies Ltd executive is not released.

She was arrested in Canada on US charges of possible violations of trade sanctions on Iran.

President Donald Trump agreed on December 1 to postpone more US tariff hikes on Chinese imports for 90 days while the two sides negotiate over American complaints about Beijing's technology policy.

The Huawei chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested the same day in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Despite that, the Commerce Ministry said last week Beijing would carry out terms of the cease-fire and expressed optimism a deal can be reached during the 90-day period.

The Chinese government raised more doubts over the weekend when it demanded Canada and the United States withdraw the charges and release Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, or face unspecified "grave consequences".

Mr Trump approved tariff hikes of 25% on 50 billion dollars (€44bn) of Chinese goods and 10% on another 200 billion dollars (€175bn) of imports in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.

China retaliated with penalties on 110 billion dollars (€96.5bn) of American goods but is running out of imports for retaliation due to their lopsided trade balance.

Mr Trump has threatened to expand charges to all goods from China.

PA

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