Home Diplomatic Suite China, US trade talks move to key issues as deal is expected

China, US trade talks move to key issues as deal is expected


Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday morning and had “specific discussions about key issues regarding the text and have set up an agreement for the next step of work,” the Xinhua News Agency reported.
While information about the phone call lacked additional details, it contained an important message for global markets that the two countries are continuing to make progress on the trade talks, said Chen Fengying, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing.
“After recent negotiations focused on their differences, the most important part is now the wording of the trade deal,” Chen told the Global Times on Tuesday. “Through the phone call they want to assure everyone that the talks are moving forward. 
As Chinese officials focus on their country’s annual legislative and political consultative sessions, there has been growing concern about the progress of the trade talks. Some have even speculated that the two sides are in a deadlock, while others say there are signs of progress, including reports from US media outlets that say China has made commitments to buy tens of billions of dollars-worth of US agricultural products. There has been no official announcement from China on such commitments.
“There is uneasiness in global market about the trade talks and US officials are feeling the pressure, hence the phone call,” Chen said. “But a phone call cannot address the key issues. The complex part of the deal will be decided by the leaders of the two countries.”
Xinhua reported that Liu took the phone call “at the request” of US officials.
In China, domestic topics were high on the agenda at the annual two sessions, though top officials also indicated that the talks are proceeding well and stressed that any deal will have to be acceptable to both sides.
Pushing back on reported a demand by the US to include an enforcement mechanism that would allow the US to unilaterally re-impose tariffs on Chinese goods, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen said at a press briefing on Saturday that “any implementation mechanism must be two-way, fair and equal.”  

Behind the scenes look at the preparations for Chinese premier’s annual speech

During his nearly two-hour speech delivering this year’s Report on the Work of the Government in the Great Hall of the People on March 5, Premier Li Keqiang was interrupted by applause more than 60 times. 
Experts and Chinese netizens commented that the report used accessible language to respond to the public’s concerns on many issues, including employment, the problems of raising children and supporting the elderly, and the economic development plan for the country. 
How did the report come about? Who was responsible for writing the report and how did they collect the information for it? 
In a video released on the website of the Chinese government on March 3, the members of the team that drafted the report revealed the stories behind the Report on the Work of the Government.

Think tank 
According to the video, the members of the drafting team are from the State Council Research Room, often dubbed the brainpower of the State Council. It has eight internal organs researching various sectors, including macro-economy and trade.
The State Council Research Room carries out comprehensive research and consultation on policies, and compiles regular reports for the principal leaders of the State Council.
It organizes and participates in investigations, research and policy-making consultations on major issues in the reform and opening-up and development of the economy and society, and provides suggestions and advisory opinions.
The department is responsible for drafting the Report on the Work of the Government, other documents on important State Council meetings, and documents of important meetings of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Additionally, the department does its own research or supports other parties in drafting and amending important documents of the State Council, and drafts speeches for State Council officials.
It analyzes and studies the economic situation of China and other countries as well as the major powers’ national economic and social development policies, and offers advice based on its research.
It also collects, analyzes and sorts information and updates on economic and social development, advising in the Cabinet’s policy-making.

Public input
“The Report on the Work of the Government should be delivered during the two sessions, inviting deputies to the National People’s Congress (NPC) to give advice. The report is also made to the public,” Sun Guojun, a member of the drafting team, said in the video released on the website. 
Liu Yingjie, head of the information department of the State Council Research Room, said that the report should focus on the major issues related to social and economic development and also take note of issues that are closely related to the public interest. 
Before drafting the Report on the Work of the Government, opinions from various sectors are taken into consideration. 
These sectors come mainly from four sources including local governments, ministries and departments, people from all walks of life, and especially netizens. All the opinions and suggestions are directly processed by the drafting crew.
Approximately 10,000 people participated in the discussions on drafting the Report on the Work of the Government this year, including more than 4,000 people in charge of local government departments, more than 2,000 deputies to the National People’s Congress, 2,100 members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and other related personnel.

Liu said that the website of the Chinese government has been collecting netizens’ opinions and their advice for the annual government report for years. All the advice is filed for the drafting crew to sort out and offer responses in the government report. 
More than 330,000 proposals made by netizens were submitted through the channel “A Word to the Premier” on the Chinese government website. The number of proposals made by foreign netizens has also increased recently. 
Sun noted that among the hundreds of thousands of pieces of advice, the issue of individuals facing difficulty accessing government services topped the list.
Premier Li said in the Report on the Work of the Government that China will continue its reforms on reducing unnecessary procedures for people to obtain documents, and give the public the means to judge government department services.
The nearly 20,000-character Report of the Government Work covers major issues on the livelihoods of 1.4 billion people in China, and more than 90 percent of the advice from netizens was reflected in the report.
The drafting team said that “the report contains all the important and urgent issues which should be dealt with and are most closely related to the people.” The crew members sometimes had fierce arguments over what constituted the most urgent issues. 

Clear and simple
In addition to soliciting opinions from different sources, the report also had to be written in language that the majority of people would understand. 
Only by talking extensively with ordinary people and entrepreneurs could the drafting crew get an appreciation of what kind of phrases were closer to people’s lives.  
Take the expression of “individual income tax threshold” for example. “Threshold for income tax,” which is used in the report, is not the professional way of expressing this standard tax deduction, but it could be easily understood by the public. 
The Report on the Work of the Government this year contains more than 19,300 characters, 600 fewer than last year. Opinions and suggestions from all sides, including those from the internet, were included as much as possible after each item was studied and deliberated over. 
The drafting team continued to modify the report right up until it was delivered on March 5. 
According to the team members, Premier Li himself led the amendment process and was the one who worked overtime the most during the Spring Festival holiday.
Before delivering the report to the public, the drafting team also sent it to governmental departments, major departments of the Party and other important organs at all levels, as well as state-owned enterprises, collecting more than 1,200 pieces of advice.  
In the following days as the ongoing two sessions continue, the report will be revised according to the opinions and suggestions from deputies to the NPC and CPPCC members.

SOURCE; Global Times


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