Round One of U.S.-China Talks Ends in Draw

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Two days of trade discussions ended in Beijing with the U.S. and China agreeing to disagree.

The scale of the negotiating task ahead was laid bare by a lengthy list of U.S. demands on China, including one to cut $200 billion off the trade deficit by 2020 compared to 2018 levels.

A document entitled “Balancing the Trade Relationship” seen by Bloomberg News also called for measures ranging from ceasing cyber hacking and lowering import tariffs to China dropping its claim to be a market economy, with many more in between.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that both sides reached a consensus on some issues, without providing details. But they also acknowledged major disagreements on other matters and will continue to work toward making more progress. Earlier, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said both sides had been having a “very good conversation” — without elaborating.

In an indication of the mood, neither side flagged plans to give a press briefing, and the American team was scheduled to depart this evening. From here it will be key to see if the talks can move forward, or if either says that they’ve hit a wall.

Round One of U.S.-China Talks Ends in Draw

Global Headlines

Hush money revelations | U.S. President Donald Trump changed his account of a $130,000 payment made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign, saying yesterday he reimbursed his attorney via a “retainer” to stop “false and extortionist accusations” of an affair. Toluse Olorunnipa and Bill Allison take a closer look at the potential legal hazards Trump could face.

Midterms get going | The race for control of the U.S. Congress kicks into high gear next week with primaries in four key states that will test whether Democrats can turn Trump’s low approval ratings to their advantage. Over the next two months, more than half of U.S. states have nominating contests. Republicans, who control Congress, are trying to buck a historical trend in which the party that holds the White House loses seats in midterm elections.

Afghanistan’s eternal conflict | Trump’s hopes of ending the 17-year war in Afghanistan are running into an unexpected obstacle: Islamic State’s growing appeal. As Eltaf Najafizada reports from Jowzjan province, it’s luring young men to fight with the promise of marriage, closing schools, beheading enemies and kidnapping women and girls to serve as sex slaves — and local officials are powerless to stop the militant group’s latest expansion.

Corbyn has little to celebrate | Britain’s local elections saw Labour struggling outside London. The Conservatives came out barely ahead in overall net gains, except in the capital, where their decision to use Brexit to fight a culture war against internationally minded “citizens of nowhere” plays badly. For more, click here. To read the latest exclusive on Brexit, here and for a detailed look at the unlikely pair plotting a successful divorce, here.

Karl Marx’s birthday bash | The hometown of the Communist Manifesto’s author is holding a party for his bicentenary this weekend, and bracing for big crowds, with speeches, competing demonstrations and a gift — a bronze statue paid for by China. Arne Delfs and Peter Martin have more on the colorful festivities and report from Trier, Germany and Beijing to explain the outside interest.

Losing believers | Argentinian President Mauricio Macri is being tested by an abrupt decline in the nation’s currency, the peso. With both inflation and government spending spiraling dangerously high, our reporters reveal growing investor concern that the center-right leader who came to power promising to revamp the economy is dragging his feet on some painful, deeper reforms.

What to Watch

  • Trump will deliver a strong sign of support for the National Rifle Association at its annual meeting today, fully abandoning a flirtation with stricter gun laws following the February mass shooting at a Florida high school.

And finally… After three weeks of street protests characterized by humor and mass outbreaks of dancing, Armenians are taking a break from what opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan calls their “revolution of love and tolerance.” He’s suspended protests until parliament meets on May 8 for a rerun vote on his bid to become prime minister. Protesters, including children who blocked a street with their toys, brought the capital, Yerevan, to a halt this week when lawmakers rejected Pashinyan’s candidacy.

Round One of U.S.-China Talks Ends in Draw

To contact the authors of this story: Enda Curran in Hong Kong at, Kathleen Hunter in London at

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