American and Chinese Officials Take Pulse on Trade Deal, Six Months In

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“Somewhat ironically, the economic relationship has become the bright spot in an otherwise deteriorating relationship,” said Kelly Ann Shaw, a partner at Hogan Lovells and a former trade official for the Trump administration. Amid the current recession and pandemic, she said, “it would be foolhardy to rip it up on either end.”

Wendy Cutler, a former trade negotiator and the vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, said that the agreement would allow officials in China to focus on its economic recovery without having to worry about more tariffs, and help American officials keep farmers happy before the election.

“At least for now, both sides share an interest in making the agreement work, although the naysayers in both capitals are gaining ground,” Ms. Cutler said.

Ms. Cutler said before the meeting that she expected the Chinese side to express displeasure over Mr. Trump’s actions against WeChat and TikTok, while also pointing to record agricultural purchases they made this summer as evidence of their commitment to the trade deal.

Gao Feng, the spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce, said at the ministry’s weekly news conference in Beijing on Aug. 20 that the United States now tends to “impose transaction bans on Chinese companies on unwarranted charges, which has no factual or legal basis, seriously damaging the legitimate rights and interests of enterprises and seriously violating the basic principles of the market economy.”

Asked earlier this month about the imminent half-year review of the phase 1 trade agreement, Zhao Lijian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said that China had “conscientiously implemented the agreement.” He added that the coronavirus epidemic and the tightening of American export controls had undoubtedly had an impact on some imports.

“Under the current situation, it is necessary for both parties to work together to strengthen cooperation and overcome difficulties together,” Mr. Zhao said. “China hopes that the United States will stop restrictive measures and discriminatory practices against Chinese companies and create conditions for the implementation of the first phase of economic and trade agreements.”

Ana Swanson reported from Washington and Keith Bradsher from Shanghai. Albee Zhang and Amber Wang contributed research from Beijing. Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting from Washington.

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