March 4, 2019 / 5:02 AM / 2 months ago

China says U.S. trade talks progress 'well received'

BEIJING (Reuters) - The “substantive progress” China and the United States have made in their trade talks has been “well-received” in both countries and around the world, a senior Chinese official said on Monday, maintaining Beijing’s previous upbeat assessment of discussions.

FILE PHOTO: Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for National People's Congress (NPC), addresses reporters ahead of China's annual session of parliament at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 4, 2018. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

“History shows cooperation is the best choice for the world’s two largest economies,” Zhang Yesui, a former Chinese ambassador in Washington and now spokesman for China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament, told a news briefing.

China and the United States have imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of each others’ goods, and the talks are aimed at de-escalating a conflict that has roiled financial markets, disrupted manufacturing supply chains and shrunk U.S. farm exports.

“So far they have achieved substantive progress on many issues of mutual interest,” Zhang said ahead of parliament’s opening on Tuesday.

“Economic and trade tries between China and the United States are mutually beneficial, win-win by the nature, and we hope that both sides can continue to step up consultations, to reach a mutually-beneficial, win-win agreement.”

Zhang’s remarks echoed comments made late last month by the Chinese’s government’s top diplomat.

Zhang noted that aside from the trade dispute, the two countries also regularly clash over issues like human rights, the disputed South China Sea and self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

While China will defend its sovereignty, security and development interests, it is also dedicated to having a relationship with the United States based on mutual respect and non-confrontation, he said.

“The two countries’s history, culture, social system and development stage certainly have many differences,” Zhang said.

“It’s totally normal to have differences and disputes, but this does not inevitably lead to antagonism or confrontation.”

It is in neither country’s interests to clash or have confrontation, Zhang added.

“Using the old thinking of the Cold War to deal with new problems in the context of globalization definitely won’t get you anywhere.”

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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