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US Officials Said China Is Willing To Cut The Trade Deficit By $200 Billion, But Beijing Says Not So Fast

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Beijing denied rumors of a major trade war concession Friday, discrediting reports that China proposed reducing the trade deficit by $200 billion.

U.S. officials told CNN and other news outlets Thursday that China had offered to take certain steps, including increased imports, to reduce America’s massive trade deficit with China. In the first round of talks in Beijing earlier this month, the U.S. side demanded that the Chinese side find ways to reduce the deficit by $200 billion by 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“These rumors are not true,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said Friday at a regular press briefing. “As far as I know, the relevant negotiations are still in progress,” he added, describing talks as “constructive.”

Senior Chinese and American officials met Thursday to discuss bilateral trade.

China and the U.S. have been locked in a trade war for months now, with each side threatening the other with tens of billions of dollars in tariffs. The Trump administration has encouraged China to adjust its “unfair” trading practices, as well as end its massive theft of American intellectual property. Not only has China not changed course, but it has decided to go toe-to-toe against the U.S. in a trade war.

China reportedly remains confident in its position, according to British Ambassador to China Barbara Woodward, who recently had dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “He said everyone would lose out, but he felt that the party had the levers and the country had the resilience to come out the other side, in better shape than the U.S.” she told the South China Morning Post Wednesday.

Chinese media reports on the trade situation have repeatedly emphasized that the U.S. has more to lose in a trade war, stressing that China will not back down from a fight. At the same time, Beijing has said time and time again that it is willing to resolving disputes through dialogue. (RELATED: China Shows No Signs Of Backing Down As State Media Touts Chinese Victory In Trade War With Trump)

Beijing may not be interested in substantially reducing America’s nearly $400 billion trade deficit with China, however, it signaled Friday that it may be willing to make certain concessions to keep talks moving in the right direction.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced Friday that it has decided to end the probe into imported U.S. sorghum, a major U.S. export, because the investigation was not in the public interest, The Associated Press reported. The ministry also cleared a path for U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital to purchase Toshiba’s computer memory chip business.

China had previously put U.S. sorghum exports in the cross hairs and had even gone so far as to halt shipments at customs.

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