The coming trade talks between China and the United States will continue to face uncertainties as the technological races between the two countries will continue after the possible withdrawal of US sanctions against Huawei, some Asia-based commentators say.
The recent ceasefire between China and the US is only temporary as the two countries have already entered a long-term battle of trade disputes and technological races, Philip Yang, former deputy secretary general of Taiwan’s National Security Council (NSC), said in a commentary published in the United Daily News on Sunday.
By allowing US companies to sell products and services to Huawei, US President Donald Trump can gain some bargaining chips as he can continue to press Beijing for more compromises in coming trade talks while at the same time easing opposition pressure of the US firms that were affected by the US sanctions against Huawei, Yang said.
After the Huawei incident, Beijing has realized that it should not rely on US technology and markets in future, Yang said. To achieve self-supply and market autonomy, China needs to buy time to push forward its technological upgrade so it is willing to ease trade disputes for the moment, he added.
However, such a ceasefire may not last long as Trump cannot just let Huawei go or he will face severe challenges from his political opponents, Yang said.
Both disputes and compromises will be seen during the coming trade talks while the world will continue to see conflicts and confrontation in the new order set by China and the United States, he said.
Last month, trade talks between China and the US collapsed as Trump decided to increase tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products to 25% from 10% on May 10. A few days later, China’s Finance Ministry said the world’s second-largest economy would raise tariffs on US imports worth $60 billion in June.
On May 15, the US Department of Commerce added Huawei Technologies to its Entity List on national security, banning the Shenzhen-based company from using US chips and software. It later granted a temporary license to Huawei to purchase US goods by August 19. Analysts said Huawei would have to reduce smartphone shipments due to a lack of chip supply and software support from US firms.
Last week, Ken Hu Houkun, the deputy chairman and rotating chairman of Huawei, said at a press conference in Shanghai that the company had secured its chip supply from certain non-American companies. However, he said he could not provide more information on whether Huawei can launch a self-developed operating system for its smartphones if it cannot access Google’s Android. He said the company remained a supporter of the Android ecosystem.
On Saturday, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a meeting on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty summit in Osaka, Japan, and agreed to resume trade talks. Trump later said the US would allow its firms to sell products and services to Huawei.
The resumption of trade talks between China and the US doesn’t mean that disputes between the two sides will not escalate again, Guo Yungxing, a professor of the Department of International Business, National Taichung University of Science and Technology, said in a separate commentary published in the United Daily News.
Trump said China has agreed to buy a large amount of US food and agricultural products within a very short time but Beijing and its mouthpieces have not yet disclosed the details of compromises China has made, Guo said.
Trade talks can collapse again if both sides don’t want to compromise, he said. Trump is very “unpredictable” and can increase tariffs on Chinese goods at any time, he added.
The Xi-Trump meeting helped ease the tensions between the two countries and stopped the trade war from escalating, Zhu Feng, Dean of the School of International Relations, Nanjing University, was quoted as saying in Lianhe Zhaobao, a Singaporean newspaper. However, the meeting could not change the overall trend that China-US relations are deteriorating as the US has already changed its long-term China strategies and policies, he said.
Meanwhile, some other experts said the US-China relations will improve after the Xi-Trump meeting.
Trump’s decision to stop the sanctions against Huawei showed that the US leader does not necessarily follow the political hawks, who have urged to suppress China in terms of the high-tech development, Li Mingjiang, an associate professor at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, told Lianhe Zhaobao.
It also showed that Trump cares more about the US-China trade relations than the technological races between the two powers, Li said.
During the previous trade talks, the US had taken a hard stance while China, in some extent, had hoped to achieve quick results, said Su Hao, director of the Center for Strategic and Peace Studies, China Foreign Affairs University. Both sides had made some misjudgments, he said.
The decision made by the US to stop increasing tariffs on Chinese goods and allow US firms to sell products and services to Huawei has provided a favorable condition for China and the US to reach a trade agreement in future, Su said.