China's Xinhua focuses more on progress, less on a pending U.S. trade deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials on Friday promised a “Phase 1” deal with China on a host of conflicts from intellectual property to currency was imminent, but China’s official state-owned news organization Xinhua struck a more cautious tone.

China's Vice Premier Liu He gives a letter from China's President Xi Jinping to U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

“We’ve come to a deal pretty much subject to getting it written,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House after two days of high-level trade talks in Washington, with China’s top negotiator Vice Premier Liu He sitting in the room.

“It’ll take probably three weeks, four weeks or five weeks,” he said, noting that both governments would be in Chile together for an upcoming summit.

“Maybe it will be then or maybe it will be some time around that,” Trump said. Both sides have an agreement on intellectual property, he said, and financial services.

An initial article on Xinhua’s Chinese-language website, which based its reporting on guidance from China’s trade delegation, didn’t mention any specific agreement or that a deal is likely to be signed in coming weeks, however. This was the first official response from China after the conclusion of the talks.

“The two parties had an honest, highly efficient, and constructive discussion in economic and trade issues, under the important guidance from the presidents of both countries,” it said.

“Both sides have made substantial progress in agriculture, intellectual property rights protection, exchange rate, financial services, expansion of trade cooperation, technology transfer and dispute settlement.”

It concluded that the two parties “have made arrangement for following consultations, and agreed to make the efforts towards a final agreement.”

In a subsequent commentary published online on Saturday morning, Xinhua said that this round of talks had resulted in “rational, pragmatic progress” and helped prevent escalation and expansion of the trade conflict. But it cautioned that there remained uncertainty about many issues.

The commentary noted that China-U.S. relations had become more complex and that “some people want to politicize trade and economic issues. Finding a solution to trade and economic issues that is acceptable to both countries could be a long process.”

Reporting by Echo Wang, additional reporting by Alexandra Harney in Shanghai.; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall & Shri Navaratnam