(Bloomberg) — China and the United States kicked off a new round of trade talks in Shanghai on Wednesday following a hiatus of almost three months, amid renewed accusations from President Donald Trump that Beijing continues to “rip off” the U.S.
U.S. delegates including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer started talks with their Chinese counterparts including Vice Premier Liu He Wednesday morning at the Xijiao State Guest Hotel, a leafy compound of luxury reception buildings and accommodation in the west of the port city, according to a pool report.
Mnuchin, Lighthizer and Liu appeared together for photographers. The Chinese side of the negotiating table contained six members in total; the U.S. side had five, according to the report.
The Americans arrived in Shanghai on Tuesday and attended a dinner at the Fairmont Peace Hotel in the evening. A person familiar with the event described the atmosphere at the dinner as being all about rapport building without substance on negotiations.
Just as the dinner started, Trump released a series of tweets lashing out at China for what he said is its unwillingness to buy American agricultural products and said it continues to “rip off” the U.S.
The People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Communist Party, responded on Wednesday with a commentary saying that China has no motive to “rip off” the U.S. and has never done so, and China won’t make concessions against its principles on trade.
Expectations for a breakthrough in the trade talks have been low. The two sides are further apart than they were three months ago, when negotiations broke down and each side blamed the other for derailing attempts to reach a deal. China is pushing for compromise in the talks, with state media underlining this week that the U.S. should meet it “halfway.”
(Adds pool report on start of talks.)
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