The US and China say they’re making progress on trade, even as other tensions worsen


US and Chinese flags (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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The United States and China say they’re optimistic about the state of their trade agreement — even as the two superpowers fight over a slew of other issues, including technology and national security.

High-level authorities from both countries — including US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He — spoke by telephone Monday evening US time, according to statements released by their respective governments.

“Both sides see progress and are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success of the agreement,” Lighthizer’s office said in a statement, referring to a “phase one” trade deal reached earlier this year.

China’s Ministry of Commerce called the talks”a constructive dialogue” in its own statement, adding that the countries agreed “to create conditions and atmosphere to continue pushing forward” the deal.

News of the talks comes more than a week after US and Chinese trade negotiators were originally expected to meet via video call to discuss the deal, which was reached in January.

But US President Donald Trump said he called off that meeting because he was unhappy with Beijing.

“I canceled talks with China,” Trump told reporters last week, according to media reports. “I don’t want to talk to China right now.”

Last week, the Chinese side said the trade talks would resume in coming days.

Tensions between the United States and China have escalated on several fonts. The countries have blamed each other over the spread of Covid-19 and closed a pair of consulates over a worsening national security spat. US authorities have also taken aim at several Chinese tech firms and threatened to ban the popular apps TikTok and WeChat.

But January’s trade deal remains largely intact. Analysts have told CNN Business that the countries have an interest in maintaining stable economic relations, and have a history of continuing those ties even in the face of other issues.

Earlier this month,White House adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House that China had “substantially” increased its purchases of US goods, adding that trade is “fine right now.”

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