World Economy

It's up to Trump to break the standstill in US-China trade war, says advisor to Beijing

Key Points
  • Beijing has taken steps to address concerns raised by Washington, so it's up to U.S. President Donald Trump to resolve the trade war, said Wang Huiyao, president of Center for China and Globalization.
  • There's "some fatigue" with the way Trump has "again and again" raised tariffs on Chinese goods, said Wang.
  • "I think that for the U.S., they have to see the progress China is making and then probably work on that momentum to push China to be more open, rather than put China into a a hard position," he said.
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It's up to U.S. President Donald Trump to end the stalemate in the trade war and reach a deal with China, said Wang Huiyao, an advisor to the Beijing government.

China has already taken "all efforts" — including passing a new foreign investment law in March — to address some concerns that the foreign business community complained about, said Wang, the founder and president of Beijing-based think tank, Center for China and Globalization.

The new law prohibits forced transfer of technology from foreign-invested businesses in China and steps up protection of intellectual property, Wang told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday. He said that it also gives overseas companies equal footing with domestic players — which addresses "exactly the concerns of the U.S. administration."

I think that for the U.S., they have to see the progress China is making and then probably work on that momentum to push China to be more open, rather than put China into a a hard position.
Wang Huiyao
Center for China and Globalization

"It's unrealistic to change the whole set of laws in China — no country can do that, but we have actually passed a new law," he said. "So, I think there's still grounds to work there to address all the concerns the U.S. may have."

But some analysts have said that the new law — set to be implemented in January next year — doesn't go far enough and may not be sufficient to appease Washington.

Barely two months after the passing of the law, Trump blamed China for backpedaling on some commitments it made during previous negotiations.

The president said Beijing "broke the deal." Washington subsequently raised tariffs on Chinese goods, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later revealed an agreement was "about 90% of the way there" to being finalized.

The trade war has escalated again since then, with both sides slapping punitive tariffs on each other's goods this month — with further levies expected in the coming months. That has led several experts to lower their expectations that the world's two largest economies could reach a deal before the U.S. presidential election in 2020.

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Wang said there's now "some fatigue" with the way Trump has "again and again" raised tariffs on Chinese goods, which has made it "awkward" for both sides. But Beijing has always maintained that it's willing to talk, he added, so "it's up to the U.S. to really go ahead and be flexible and not take a really harsh attitude on this."

"We cannot have a perfect deal," said Wang. "You can see that China has continued to open not for the U.S.'s sake and interest, but for China itself."

"I think that for the U.S., they have to see the progress China is making and then probably work on that momentum to push China to be more open, rather than put China into a a hard position."

Several experts have said that the U.S. has raised some valid points about China and its business practices. However, they pointed out that the way the Trump administration is addressing those concerns — such as by airing their criticisms in public and backing China into a corner — may not be effective.

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.