Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee
Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee

Details of ongoing trade negotiations between the Trump administration and China continue to trickle in this week, with reports on Monday suggesting that Beijing is looking at changes to its ambitious “Made in China 2025” industrial policy.

Asia Times columnist David Goldman’s reporting from Beijing early last month that Chinese policymakers were looking at changes to President Xi Jinping’s signature program has been followed this week with reporting from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.

Possible tweaks to the plan, which sets targets for Chinese firms to dominate high-tech industries, could include postponing some targets from 2025 to 2035, Goldman wrote on November 2, citing policy advisors in Beijing. Bloomberg reported the same thing Wednesday, citing two people familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal characterized the changes as replacing their industrial policy with a “new program promising greater access for foreign companies.”

Top policymakers are currently drafting a replacement for “Made in China 2025” to be rolled out next year, the Journal said, citing people briefed on the matter.

Details of possible changes – and whether they will go far enough to appease the Trump administration – are far from clear, but the news sheds light on recent comments from President Donald Trump.

Speaking at a press conference in early November, Trump said of China that “they got rid of ‘China 25.’”

At the time, while the comments were widely reported as a misunderstanding on the part of Trump, David Goldman wrote that the mention was more likely a sign that Beijing had already proposed revamping the industrial policy.

After the news, major US stock benchmarks jumped more than 1% in trading on Wednesday.

Chinese and US officials began a new round of trade talks this week with a phone call between Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Increased purchases of US agriculture products and changes to economic policy were reportedly discussed.

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