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Beijing says latest US-China trade talks were extensive, made progress on forced tech transfers

Key Points
  • In a Thursday morning statement, China's Commerce Ministry said the just-concluded round of trade talks with the U.S. were extensive and established a foundation for the resolution of each others' concerns.
  • The U.S. side had issued its own statement earlier in the day, noting a long list of outstanding issues, but also recognizing that China had pledged to purchase "a substantial amount" of products and services from the U.S.
  • Gao Feng, a spokesman for China's Commerce Ministry, said Thursday afternoon that progress had been made during the talks on structural issues including forced tech transfers and the protection of intellectual property rights.
China's President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017.
Thomas Peter | Reuters

In a Thursday morning statement, China's Commerce Ministry said the just-concluded round of trade talks with the U.S. were extensive and established a foundation for the resolution of each others' concerns.

Both parties, the Beijing ministry said, agreed to maintain close contact.

Here's the full three-sentence statement, as translated from Chinese by CNBC:

From Jan. 7 to 9, China and the U.S. held discussions in Beijing at a vice-ministerial level over the issue of trade. Both sides enthusiastically implemented the important agreement of the heads of both countries, and held broad, deep and meticulous discussions on shared observations on trade issues and structural problems, laying the foundation for addressing areas of common concern. Both sides agreed to continue to keep in close contact.

The U.S. side had issued its own statement earlier in the day, noting a long list of outstanding issues, but also recognizing that China had pledged to purchase "a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured goods, and other products and services from the United States."

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The talks lasted for three days in Beijing — one day longer than had been previously announced, which analysts said indicated the discussions were making some progress.

Gao Feng, a spokesman for China's Commerce Ministry, said Thursday afternoon that the length of the meeting indicated that both sides were serious and honest. He added that the structural issues that made progress during the talks included forced tech transfers and the protection of intellectual property rights.

Another signal that experts cheered: China's top trade negotiator Liu He reportedly stopped by the negotiating room on Monday, which was unexpected given that the talks were just meant to be held at the vice-ministerial level.

During a Chinese foreign ministry briefing on Monday, spokesperson Lu Kang said that "China is sincere about properly resolving trade frictions on the basis of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and reciprocity," according to an official translation. He would not confirm a media report saying Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan will meet with US President Trump during the World Economic Forum's 2019 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

In early December, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary ceasefire, giving both sides until March to reach some agreement on trade and issues such as the forced transfer of technology.

Trade tensions between the world's two largest economies escalated last year, putting global stock markets on edge. The U.S. announced tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, while Beijing countered with its own.

—CNBC's Evelyn Cheng and Reuters contributed to this report.

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