China wants to discuss TikTok and WeChat in US trade talks: report | News

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U.S. and Chinese negotiators plan to discuss the progress of their trade deal in the coming days, with Beijing pushing to expand the program to include Washington’s recent crackdown on companies like TikTok and WeChat.A virtual meeting will likely take place as early as this week although a date has not been finalized, according to people familiar with the talks’ preparations who have asked not to be named. President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser on Tuesday downplayed fears the Phase 1 deal could collapse.

In addition to agricultural purchases and the dollar-yuan exchange rate, Chinese officials intend to discuss Trump’s potential bans on transactions with the two apps for national security reasons, the people said without giving more. details of what China hopes to accomplish by doing so.

Nearly seven months after a White House signing ceremony put on hold a tariff war that had rocked the global economy, Beijing’s promised purchases of American goods are far behind. The coronavirus crisis and the deterioration of U.S.-Chinese relations over everything from technological security to Hong Kong have made trade a rare area of ​​cooperation.

“The only area we engage in is trade,” Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Tuesday at a White House press conference. ” Everything is fine now. ”

During a briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China’s stance on the first phase remained consistent. TikTok, he said, “is just a platform for providing entertainment, entertainment, talent show and sharing for Americans and people around the world. It has nothing to do with national security ”.

In the United States, Trump’s treatment of China is emerging as a political weapon for Democrats trying to overthrow him in November. Three years ago this month, the Trump administration opened an investigation into China’s treatment of US intellectual property that would help lay the groundwork for a trade war that would result in tariffs on some $ 500 billion. dollars worth of products shipped between the world’s largest economies.

Now, less than three months before Trump’s re-election, the pandemic that started in China is struggling for his administration to strike the balance between being tough and clinging to a deal that doesn’t deliver on its promises. Beijing.

“It’s about farmers”

Scott Kennedy, an expert on China at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told Bloomberg Television this week: “It is astonishing that despite the storm that is now the US-China relationship, neither Trump nor Xi Jinping want really break the phase. -a deal. ”

“For Trump, in a nutshell, it’s about the farmers – the sales they can make for the Red States in this election,” Kennedy said, referring to the rural Republicans strongholds. For Chinese President Xi, “it’s about stability and preventing the relationship from collapsing completely,” he said.

China is seeking to defuse an unpredictable showdown with the United States that has seen several of its tech champions targeted, with the latest actions spurring a potential sale of the US operations of ByteDance Ltd’s hugely popular short video app to Microsoft Corp. Trump also bans US transactions. with the WeChat app from Tencent Holdings Ltd., which has over 1 billion users.

Trump’s executive orders, which are expected to go into effect in September, potentially have an even broader impact than the multi-pronged attack on telecommunications equipment supplier Huawei Technologies Co., as they threaten to sever communications ties between the two companies. inhabitants of the world’s largest economies. The United States argues that Chinese apps that collect information about U.S. citizens pose a serious national security risk, as the data is susceptible to being acquired by the Chinese government.

Given this year’s pandemic-related slump in the global economy, which Trump has repeatedly blamed on China, Beijing was only a quarter of its way out of its way to buy more than $ 170 billion worth of American products this year by the end of June.

On Tuesday, Kudlow played down the shortfall, saying China had “substantially” increased its purchases of US goods.

China is expected to purchase around $ 130 billion in the second half of this year to comply with the initial terms of the agreement signed in January, which called for the purchase of an additional $ 200 billion in US goods and services from the level of 2017 by the end of 2021..

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