China urges U.S. to make a “wise choice” on trade disputes

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterpart Foreign Minister Wang Yi reaffirmed their work toward bettering the U.S.-China relationship amid ongoing trade disputes and recent developments on the Korean Peninsula. In Beijing on Thursday, Pompeo said that the U.S. “wants a very constructive relationship with China” while Wang urged the U.S. to make a “wise choice” on proposed tariffs.

“Our deficit with China is still too high,” said Pompeo, adding that it’s “important for President Trump to rectify that situation so trade becomes more balanced, more reciprocal and more fair with opportunity to have American workers to be treated fairly.”

He added of recent tensions with China, “When countries disagree, we speak up. When we cooperate, we can make great progress.” 

Pompeo’s comments come as the Trump administration still plans to release on Friday a detailed list of its 25-percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imported goods. The tariffs will be “imposed on those imports shortly thereafter,” the White House said in a statement last month. Included will be goods tied to Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan.

Wang, however, appeared to issue a warning to the U.S. on trade disputes, saying the nations have two options, one is “cooperation” and a “win-win” scenario. The other — “lose-lose.”

“China opts for the first one and has made such a decision, we hope the U.S. will make a wise choice and China on its part is prepared on all fronts,” remarked Wang. 

Wang noted, however, that competition between the two countries is “normal in international relations”  and that what matters is “how we approach competition.” He said that the U.S. and China should “respect each other” and focus on cooperation and manage their differences through dialogue. 

Pompeo agreed, saying “We’ve seen power when China and the U.S. work together and don’t treat the relationship as a zero sum.”

Meanwhile, both countries were optimistic on developments with the North Korean regime following President Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pompeo once again reiterated that economic sanctions would remain in place until complete and verifiable denuclearization is achieved.

Pompeo said the Chinese agreed that only at an “appropriate time”  will sanctions relief be considered “but only after full denuclearization, complete denuclearization of North Korea.” The secretary thanked China for its role in “helping bring North Korea to the negotiating table.”

Earlier, Wang praised the summit between Mr. Trump and Kim as putting the world “on the right path” and eventually bringing “enduring, genuine peace to the region.” 

Pompeo and Wang also addressed the issue of U.S. government workers who experienced unexplained health issues in Guangzhou earlier this month. Pompeo told reporters that he’s asked the Chinese to “continue to cooperate with us, to try and figure out how that happened and how it came to be and to work with us to conduct an investigation sufficient that we can prevent it from happening again.”

Wang said China has stayed in communication on the “so-called sonic attack” adding that China will “continue to protect the lawful right and interests of all diplomats in China, including those from US.”

“We have done some investigation, we haven’t found any cause or lead that have triggered such a condition,” Wang said. “We will stay in communication with the U.S. to handle this issue.” 

Pompeo is expected to meet later with Chinese President Xi Jinping before heading back to Washington.

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