Chinese Envoy Says Trade Talks With US Have Not Broken Down - NBC 7 San Diego
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Chinese Envoy Says Trade Talks With US Have Not Broken Down

The Trump administration raised tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods to 25% from 10% on Friday

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    Chinese Envoy Says Trade Talks With US Have Not Broken Down
    Andrew Harnik/AP
    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, center, and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, right, speak with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, left, as he departs the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Washington, Friday, May 10, 2019.

    China's leading envoy to trade talks in Washington says the failure to strike a deal in the tariffs war with the U.S. was "just a small setback" and negotiations will continue despite increases in import duties on American imports from China.

    In comments to reporters before he left Washington for Beijing on Friday, Vice Premier Liu He said he was cautiously optimistic but that a deal would require the Trump administration to agree to end the punitive tariffs it has imposed on billions of dollars' worth of Chinese goods.

    In comments carried by China's state-run CCTV, Liu said the remaining differences are crucial ones having to do with principles, "and we will make no concessions on matters of principle."

    Still, he said he did not believe the negotiations had broken down.

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    "Well into this century the United States was still paying out pensions to the heirs of civil war soldiers," he said. "We honor treaties that date back some 200 years despite no one being alive who signed those treaties. Many of us would love to be taxed for the things we are solely and individually responsible for. But we are American citizens and this bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach."

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    "On the contrary, I think it is just a small setback in the talks between two countries, which is inevitable," Hong Kong's Phoenix TV showed him as saying.

    Liu said it was "China's opinion that the tariffs are the starting point of the trade friction and must be totally lifted if a deal is reached."

    The Trump administration raised tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods to 25% from 10% on Friday. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the U.S. was preparing to expand those tariffs to cover $300 billion of Chinese products that aren't already facing import taxes, or virtually everything imported from China.

    Liu also said the two sides were disagreeing over the amount of goods China would pledge to purchase from the U.S. to help reduce the American trade deficit.

    "We think this is a very serious issue and we cannot easily change our minds," he said.

    Liu sought to downplay the scale and impact of the dispute, saying that China was a strong nation and would surmount any problems caused by the conflict.

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    "We just had differences on the wording in certain documents and we hoped to solve the differences," he said. "Therefore, we think it unnecessary to make an overreaction to it."