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‘China backtracked on nearly all aspects of U.S. trade deal’

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After Trump’s tweeted tariff threat that upset trade talk expectations on Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that China had been “retreating from specific commitments that had already been made,” by way of explanation.

Reuters today published an account, sourced from “three U.S. government sources and three private sector sources briefed on the talks,” which confirms that China went through the whole draft trade agreement and systematically edited items that had already been agreed upon:

China backtracked on nearly all aspects of U.S. trade deal – sources

The diplomatic cable from Beijing arrived in Washington late on Friday night, with systematic edits to a nearly 150-page draft trade agreement that would blow up months of negotiations between the world’s two largest economies…

In each of the seven chapters of the draft trade deal, China had deleted its commitments to change laws to resolve core complaints that caused the United States to launch a trade war: Theft of U.S. intellectual property and trade secrets; forced technology transfers; competition policy; access to financial services; and currency manipulation…

Sources told Reuters the extent of the setbacks in the revised text were serious and that Trump’s response was not merely a negotiating strategy.

Chinese lead negotiator Liú Hè 刘鹤 is now set to arrive in Washington, D.C., on Thursday just before tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods rise from 10 percent to 25 percent at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning. China has promised “necessary countermeasures” when those tariffs take effect.

Other trade-war-related links for today:

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Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

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