China says US ‘solely to blame’ for collapse of trade talks, but door remains open for negotiation



Jun Mai | South China Morning Post

China has laid the blame squarely on the US for the breakdown of trade talks between the world’s two biggest economies, but hinted at its willingness to resume stalled negotiations with Washington while rejecting any attempt to force concessions from Beijing.

In a white paper on China’s official position on the trade talks released by the State Council Information Office on Sunday, Beijing made it clear the US government “should bear the sole and entire responsibility” for the current stalemate, and hit back at allegations that Beijing had backtracked from its earlier promises.

On the specific allegation that China significantly changed the text under negotiation after the latest round of talks, the white paper said it was “common practice” to make new proposals and adjustments as the talks progressed, something the US had done consistently.

“The more the US government is offered, the more it wants,” the document said.

At a press conference in Beijing on Sunday, Wang Shouwen, China’s vice-minister for commerce, accused the US of being “irresponsible” in accusing Beijing of backtracking on its promises.

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he said in English, the only time he strayed from his native tongue.

Meanwhile, the white paper said that Beijing remained “committed to credible consultations based on equality and mutual benefit”, but would “not give ground on matters of principle”.

When asked what the US side needed to do for the negotiations to continue, Wang referred to a preliminary agreement made by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Argentina in December.

“The consensus then was to not raise tariffs, and work towards cancelling them,” he said.

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