The United States and China appear to have made progress in trade negotiations that wrapped up Wednesday afternoon in Beijing, but it remains unclear whether that will translate into a resolution to their ongoing trade dispute.
In a sign of Beijing’s commitment to reaching a deal with Washington, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He—President Xi Jinping’s top economic aide and the official in charge of Beijing’s trade talks with Washington—made a surprise appearance at last Monday’s talks, which were officially conducted at the vice-ministerial level.Beijing has offered several notable commitments aimed at resolving its trade dispute with Washington. And last month, Chinese lawmakers published a draft foreign investment law that marks Beijing’s strongest stance yet on intellectual property protection. If passed, it would ban forced technology transfers and illegal government “interference” in foreign business operations. The legislature also proposed an amendment to China’s patent law last month that would harden punishments against counterfeiters and piracy. Additionally, Beijing has promised to further open up some sectors of the economy to foreign investors and has rhetorically played down its “Made in China 2025” plan.
At the same time, Trump administration officials reportedly believe that gestures like the draft foreign investment law are vague and could be prone to lax enforcement, a view that is echoed by outside experts.