US sets ′hard deadline′ for China trade talks | News | DW | 09.12.2018
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US sets 'hard deadline' for China trade talks

Washington has said it needs to see progress in trade talks with China before March 1 or tariffs will go up. Separately, Beijing has said the US should withdraw its arrest warrant for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

The US and China have until March 1 to secure a trade deal which would "assure the protection of US technology" and "get additional market access" to US companies, US Trade Representatives Robert Lighthizer said Sunday. 

If the deal is not reached, the US is set to raise tariffs on $200 billion (€176 billion) of Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent.

"As far as I am concerned it is a hard deadline," Lighthizer told the US cable network CBS, after President Donald Trump announced a 90-day delay on raising the tariffs to allow negotiations.

"When I talk to the president of the United States he is not talking about going beyond March," Lighthizer added.

Trump met with his Chinese colleague Xi Jinping at the margins of the recent G20 summit in Argentina. The two leaders pledged to work on US objections to China's trade policies, which Trump has repeatedly called "unfair."

Lighthizer told CBS that the US will demand concessions in various areas, including Beijing's demands for US companies to turn over technology to their Chinese partners.

"We need agricultural sales and we need manufacturing sales," Lighthizer said. "We need structural changes on this fundamental issue of non-economic technology transfer."

Read more: US, China declare truce on new tariffs

China slams arrest of Huawei official

US officials have also dismissed concerns over the arrest of Huawei financial executive Meng Wanzhou on an American warrant. The businesswoman, who is also the daughter of Huawei founder and chief Ren Zhengfei, was detained in Canada on December 1 after Washington accused the Chinese tech giant of violating US sanctions on Iran.

"It shouldn't really have much of an impact," Lighthizer said. "That is a criminal justice matter. It is totally separate from anything that I work on."

A courtroom sketch of Meng Wanzhou (picture-alliance/AP Photo/The Canadian Press/J. Wolsack)

Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer, faces extradition to the US

The arrest, however, has prompted an angry reaction from Beijing, with Chinese officials separately summoning both the US and the Canadian envoys and threatening a severe response.

"The actions of the US seriously violated the lawful and legitimate rights of the Chinese citizen, and by their nature were extremely nasty," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told US ambassador Terry Branstad.

Le called on Washington to withdraw the warrant. "China will respond further depending on US actions," he added.

Ottawa "has assured China that due process is absolutely being followed in Canada, that consular access for China to Ms. Meng will absolutely be provided," said Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

"We are a rule-of-law country and we will be following our laws as we have thus far in this matter," she said on Friday.

Bail over health concerns?

On Sunday, Meng argued she should be released on bail while awaiting an extradition hearing, citing hospital treatment for hypertension in a bail application.

In a sworn affidavit, Meng maintained her innocence and said she would fight the charges in court at in the US, if she is extradited.

She stressed her longstanding ties to Vancouver, which date back at least 15 years, as well as significant property holdings in the city. Prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley urged the court to deny her bail request, saying Meng still represented a flight risk, given her vast resources and the severity of the charges she faces in the US.

jcg, dj/cmk (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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