China raps USA warship sailing in disputed sea

China raps USA warship sailing in disputed sea

China and American officials began talks on Monday to potentially resolve a bruising trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

President Donald Trump claims his administration is "doing very well in negotiations with China", but the U.S. team heading to Beijing this week is starting nearly from scratch.

Ahead of US-China trade talks set for Monday and Tuesday, China's Commerce Ministry said in a statement that the renewed negotiations over the ongoing trade row would include "positive and constructive discussions".

Righting the yawning trade imbalance with China, possibly involving more United States fuel exports, would be "easiest", he said, while structural reforms would be "much harder".

Talks in Switzerland would follow a meeting due to start in Beijing on Monday between US and Chinese officials, the first formal gathering between the two sides since Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day tariff truce in December, following a widely-anticipated dinner at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Sunday, Trump said that trade talks with China were going "very well" and that Xi is "very much involved in the talks".

The troubled waters of the South China Sea are disputed by several nations of the region, namely Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Taiwan - which Beijing sees as an integral part of the mainland.

The US side is led by a deputy US trade representative, Jeffrey D. Gerrish.

The talks come a month after Trump and Xi agreed to suspend a planned tariff hike for three months to give negotiators space to reach an agreement and end a dispute that has roiled world markets.

China's major state-owned grain firm has since said it has resumed buying USA soybeans, and Beijing suspended extra tariffs on US-made cars and auto parts on January 1.

Michael Hirson, Asia director at Eurasia Group consultancy and a former US Treasury Department official, said an indicator of real progress this week would be whether the two sides announce a substantive round of negotiations at a more senior level.

But he said "what has changed is China now understands how independent they are on us".

Trump has imposed tariffs to pressure Beijing to change its practices on issues ranging from corporate espionage to market access and industrial subsidies.

Both sides have expressed interest in settling their tariff battle over Beijing's technology ambitions.

"Top administration officials are confident they have enough leverage to win significant changes", NPR's Shanghai correspondent Rob Schmitz reports, "including an end to China's practice of forcing USA companies to hand over key technology in return for gaining access to China's market, and an agreement to buy more products from the U.S".

"I think China wants to get it resolved".

During that 90-day period, agreements "may not be reached until the last day", said Tu Xinquan, director of the China Institute for World Trade Organization Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. American officials worry those might erode USA industrial leadership. I think they sort of have to, " Trump said on Friday.

Chinese growth fell to a post-global crisis low of 6.5 percent in the quarter ending in September.

The president has taken heart in China's faltering economy, repeating that it makes Beijing more likely to strike a deal.