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Trade war

China says both sides win from trade as blame game escalates

Report seen as effort to lower temperature ahead of G-20 finance meeting

Top trade officials from the U.S. and China meet in Beijing on May 1.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- Trade between China and the U.S. benefits both countries, the Ministry of Commerce here said in a report published Thursday that apparently seeks to defuse tensions ahead of a fresh opportunity for talks.

The document follows Sunday's publication of a Chinese government white paper on bilateral trade, which sparked finger-pointing over which side to blame for a breakdown in trade negotiations this May.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and People's Bank of China Gov. Yi Gang are scheduled to meet at the Group of 20 gathering of finance ministers and central bankers in the Japanese city of Fukuoka this weekend.

Thursday's report helps in understanding "the true nature of cooperation between China and the U.S. in economic and trade areas," ministry spokesman Gao Feng said in a news conference Thursday.

Sino-American trade is not as one-sided as Washington paints it, according to the research report. The U.S. overstates its trade deficit with China, the document said, citing statistical and other reasons.

The deficit is a natural result of such factors as differences in industrial competitiveness and economic structures as well as the international division of labor, the report also said.

The document also pointed out that trade between the two countries has created jobs and helped keep inflation down in the U.S. American companies generated roughly $700 billion in sales in China in 2017, the report said.

These arguments already appeared in a trade white paper released by Beijing last September. Numbers and third-party research cited in that white paper resurfaced in the new report, suggesting that it was thrown together in haste.

When the latest white paper was published Sunday, China placed the blame for the breakdown in trade talks squarely on Washington. This prompted the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Treasury Department to jointly express disappointment and accuse Beijing of backpedaling on "important elements of what the parties had agreed to."

The Commerce Ministry responded Tuesday that American claims of Chinese backtracking are completely incorrect.

Thursday's report closed with a forward-looking view that China and the U.S. can grow together under the win-win nature of Sino-American economic and trade cooperation.

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