Negotiations between China and the United States resumed Thursday morning in Beijing, while the Trump administration threatens to shoot in just over two weeks a new salvo in the trade war between the two largest economies.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer shook the hands of Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in front of the photographers before starting talks at the Diaoyutai Diplomatic Residence in a park. raised from the west of the Chinese capital.
The journalists had to leave the room before the protagonists began the discussion.
Just before leaving his hotel, Mr. Mnuchin said he was "impatient" to hold these talks with his Chinese interlocutors.
The United States has given China until March 1 to find a common ground on trade disputes between the two countries, before increasing from 10 to 25% tariffs on Chinese products representing 200 billion annual import dollars each year.
The US president, however, said Tuesday that he could give China an additional delay "if we are close to an agreement, a real agreement".
According to the tenant of the White House, the current discussions are "going very well".
The talks, which are scheduled to take place until Friday, have been preceded since Monday in Beijing by talks at the lower level, but nothing has filtered as to the content of the talks.
After renewed optimism following previous talks in Washington last month, the Trump administration blew the cold last week, assuring there was "still a lot of work" before the first two economic powers can not overcome their multiple differences.
Washington, which complains about China's huge trade surplus from its bilateral trade, also demands that Beijing end its unfair practices: forced technology transfer, intellectual property "theft", hacking, as well as the massive subsidies granted to public enterprises to make them national champions.
– "Gastronomic Banquet" –
The financial markets seem to be optimistic over the past few days, as the Chinese official press believes that the two powers are really trying to reach an agreement.
"A positive outcome is widely expected," writes Thursday the English-language daily Global Times, wanting to see a positive sign in the unconfirmed reports that President Xi Jinping would receive the US delegation on Friday.
Beijing neglects nothing to mollify its interlocutors: according to the Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post, Mr. Liu must invite his guests to a "gastronomic banquet" in a large restaurant in Beijing, as a gesture of "goodwill" vis-à-vis the United States.
Donald Trump however announced last week that he did not expect to meet his Chinese counterpart before the deadline of early March.
But "Sino-US relations are entirely dependent on the two leaders and it will ultimately be up to Xi and Trump to reach a compromise," said economist Trey McArver of Trivium Research.
Meanwhile, the latest Chinese foreign trade figures for the month of January are not likely to calm the annoyance of the United States: the country's total exports still grew by 9.1% last month, while imports fell by 1.5%.
Beijing has thus released a new massive surplus of $ 39.2 billion with the rest of the world, down sharply however with its score of December (57.06 billion).