China described its recently concluded two-day talks with the U.S. as “constructive and candid,” even as both sides imposed fresh tariffs on the products of the other.
“At the invitation of the U.S. side, a Chinese delegation has held constructive and candid exchanges on economic and trade issues of mutual concern with the U.S. counterparts in Washington from Aug. 22 to 23,” an official Chinese government statement said.
“Both sides will keep in contact about the future arrangement,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a brief statement August 24 on its website.
The Chinese delegation was led by Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy China International Trade Representative Wang Shouwen, while the U.S. delegation was led by David Malpass, undersecretary for international affairs of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, reported China’s state-run Xinhua News.
However, other media outlets belie that any progress was carved out of the talks.
“Two days of low-level negotiations ended on Thursday [August 23] with no positive moves towards ending the trade war,” noted the South China Morning Post.
“Two days of trade talks in Washington between the two sides failed to make any major progress,” said BBC News.
The two sides “exchanged views on how to achieve fairness, balance, and reciprocity in the economic relationship, including by addressing structural issues in China,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said on August 23.
The statement was significant for what it didn’t say as well, as there was no discussion of follow-up talks or any accomplishments, The Wall Street Journal observed.
The conclusion of the talks came just hours after the U.S. on August 23 imposed a second wave of tariffs on Chinese goods worth US$16 billion, with China immediately responding in kind.
The Trump administration is preparing a much bigger bouquet of tariffs covering some 6,000 products from China with an annual import value of $200 billion, and China is expected to retaliate in kind.
If the U.S. continues on the same schedule as in the past, those tariffs could start to take effect in September.