China says trade talks with U.S. set foundation to resolve concerns

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Asian markets were mostly lower Thursday as USA and Chinese officials wrapped up three days of talks in Beijing without significant breakthroughs.

People familiar with the talks said the world's two largest economies were further apart on Chinese structural reforms that the Trump administration is demanding in order to stop alleged theft and forced transfer of USA technology and on how to hold Beijing to its promises.

President Donald Trump has said on Twitter that the talks are "going very well".

If talks continue to go well, a cabinet-level meeting is likely to happen before the end of the month. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude (CLc1) futures rose $2.58 to settle at $52.36 a barrel, a 5.2 percent gain.

Steven Winberg, assistant secretary for fossil energy, has told reporters that discussions will be extended for another day.

He declined to provide more details.

One of the biggest challenges to any deal would be to ensure that China enforces whatever is agreed to stop technology transfers, intellectual property theft and hacking of USA computer networks.

Trump imposed import tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods to pressure Beijing to change its practices on issues ranging from industrial subsidies to hacking.

China said in a statement from the Commerce Ministry that the trade talks "improved mutual understanding and laid the foundation for resolving issues of mutual concern". The U.S. and China have slapped a tariffs on a combined $360 billion in each other's imports since July.

Ross said there was a "very good chance" of reaching an agreement, although monitoring compliance would present a challenge. Trump has said he would increase those duties to 25 per cent from 10 per cent now if no deal is reached by March 2, and has threatened to tax all imports from China if Beijing fails to cede to USA demands.

The three-day talks between the United States and China ended on Wednesday.

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Oil prices jumped, helped by the hopes of easing trade tensions between China and the US, while OPEC-led crude output cuts also provided support.

But Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the timing of the North Korean leader's arrival could be coincidental.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said he has "heard some very encouraging words" about the talks as well.

"China's ability to use (North Korea) as leverage has diminished considerably since Trump opened his own channel to Kim", she said.

Asked about his presence on Tuesday, Lu from the foreign ministry said it wasn't surprising for Liu to be there.

USA officials have long complained that China has failed to live up to trade promises, often citing Beijing's pledges to resume imports of American beef that took more than a decade to implement.

The US economy grew at an annual rate of 3.4 percent in the third quarter but surveys show consumer confidence weakening. In other words, the onus is on China to demonstrate that it will meet United States demands, with the threat of additional penalties in the background.

Jon Cowley, a senior lawyer at Baker McKenzie's worldwide commercial and trade practice group, said he expected that negotiators may have put together a framework for an agreement, but that existing tariffs would not be fully eliminated unless China met the United States "all the way".

China called it a violation of its sovereignty that has damaged "peace, safety and order" in the waterway.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. David Eastburn, said "The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere global law allows".

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