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Trade war

No end in sight to China-US trade war as talks reportedly canceled

Beijing looks unlikely to make any concessions before American midterm elections

China appears to be digging in for an extended battle over trade.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- High-level trade negotiations between China and the U.S. this month have been called off, according to media reports, with both sides ready to impose their latest tariffs this coming Monday.

Beijing apparently believes that talks are unlikely to yield any fruit amid the escalating trade war, leaving no path in sight to resolving the issue. It is following up on a promise not to negotiate under threat, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people briefed on the matter.

China had been receptive to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's proposal for cabinet-level talks, and progress was being made on setting dates.

But when U.S. President Donald Trump announced this past Monday a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods and threatened more, Beijing said it would go ahead with its own new tariffs on American imports and had strong words for Washington.

"It sent the invitation for trade talks while imposing maximum pressure," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a Wednesday news conference. "It seems like the U.S. is up to its old tricks again, but we know that only too well and remain unruffled."

With the negotiations off for this month, the search for a way out continues. The Chinese appear open to talks -- a stance meant to reassure financial markets that the trade war can be contained.

But Beijing seems aware of differences in opinion within the Trump administration and appears content to wait until after November's congressional midterm elections in the U.S., believing that Trump could change his stance on China depending on the results.

Beijing is unlikely to make any big concessions aimed at reopening talks before then and appears to be digging in for a drawn-out trade battle.

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