US, Chinese officials meet over dispute


Associated Press

BEIJING

Chinese and U.S. officials met face-to-face Thursday in an attempt to resolve a dispute over technology that has taken the world’s two largest economies the closest they’ve come to a trade war.

A high-powered U.S. delegation arrived in Beijing for talks with Chinese officials aimed at defusing the tensions, though analysts said they appear unlikely to yield a breakthrough given the two sides’ intensifying rivalry in strategic technologies, where China lags behind the U.S.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is leading the group, which includes Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Liu He, President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, headed the Chinese side in the talks, which are expected to end today.

The dispute has deepened as China has stepped up efforts to overtake western industry leaders in advanced technologies, especially for semiconductors, the silicon brains required to run smartphones, connected cars, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Under Xi, a program known as “Made in China 2025” aims to make China a tech superpower by advancing development of industries that in addition to semiconductors includes artificial intelligence, pharmaceuticals and electric vehicles. The plan mostly involves subsidizing Chinese firms. But it also requires foreign companies to provide key details about their technologies to Chinese partners.

President Donald Trump is seeking to cut the chronic U.S. trade deficit by $100 billion and gain concessions over the policies that foreign companies say force them to share technology in order to gain market access.

His administration has threatened to impose new tariffs on roughly $150 billion in Chinese goods. That prompted China to announce its own tariffs on U.S. goods, and Beijing also looks unlikely to cede any ground on its strategic blueprint for technology.

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