China's State Media Offers Some Clarity on U.S. Trade Deal

(Bloomberg) -- China’s official statement on weekend trade talks with the U.S. was very light on details, but in the ensuing days, some of the country’s state-run media outlets have reported details from the summit and referred to information the government has tried to censor.

In a Sunday editorial in Chinese, the Global Times noted that the agreement struck between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump in Argentina on Saturday was temporary. The paper’s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, also tweeted and posted on Weibo that it was just a truce, and that tariffs would still be levied if there was no lasting deal.

That’s more detail than was in a Wednesday statement from China’s commerce ministry that said the trade meeting with the U.S. was “very successful” and expressed confidence in implementing the agreement -- but didn’t provide any further details on the outcome.

There’s still no official statement from Beijing that the deal reached Saturday to not raise tariffs is only for a 90-day period and is dependent on the outcome of talks. China’s government has been slow to formulate its response to the summit as senior officials were still out of the country with Xi, Bloomberg News reported.

The Global Times is affiliated with the state-run People’s Daily, and published a separate Chinese-language editorial on Tuesday noting that the U.S. had made no mention of Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan in any statements after the Xi-Trump meeting, nor criticized China’s industrial policy. China’s government has yet to issue official comment on those details.

The day after Xi and Trump met, the WeChat account of the People’s Daily’s overseas edition published an article detailing some of what was discussed at their talks. The article was by Mei Xinyu -- a researcher at a think tank under the Ministry of Commerce -- and cited a White House statement.

It explained that China and the U.S. had agreed to work together on issues including widening market access, protecting intellectual property rights, avoiding forced technology transfers and jointly fighting against cyber theft.

The China Daily also published a commentary on Tuesday noting the 90-day period, explaining it was a truce and saying the U.S. would likely escalate the trade war if no permanent deal was achieved.

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