US, China Report Progress on Trade Disputes

Posted December 20th, 2012 at 2:10 am (UTC-5)
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Senior U.S. and Chinese officials finished two days of trade talks Wednesday, touting progress on a number of economic issues that have complicated the relationship between the world's two biggest economies.

The annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, held this year in Washington, was the first high-level meeting since President Barack Obama's re-election and China's once-a-decade leadership transition.

Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming says Beijing would address U.S. concerns about the counterfeiting of American goods by strengthening intellectual property rights and ensuring that government offices and state-owned banks do not use pirated software.

Chen says Washington promised to promote exports of high-technology goods to China and promised fair treatment for Chinese companies investing in the United States.

Despite the optimistic statements usually given at such high-level meetings, the U.S.-China trade relationship has grown increasingly rocky in recent years, with Washington and Beijing bringing a rising number of international trade disputes against one another.

Tensions were evident, even during the largely optimist comments following the talks. In remarks delivered at a Wednesday dinner, Chinese Vice Premiere Wang Qishan said many in America “lack understanding of China and have stereotypes of China.”

Wang, who was recently named to the Communist Party's elite Politburo Standing Committee, took particular issue with U.S. government treatment of Chinese investors, who he said were “subject to political background checks.”

A U.S. Congressional study in October called for Chinese telecom giants ZTE and Huawei to be banned from government contracts and acquisitions because of suspected ties with the government in Beijing.

U.S. Trade Representative Mark Kirk said after the meeting that Washington welcomes rising Chinese investment, saying in most cases they are able to do so without government review.

China and the U.S. share more than $500 billion in two-way trade, heavily weighted in China's favor.