Talks a go despite more friction from blacklist

Top News | AGENCIES 9 Oct 2019

Vice Premier Liu He and top trade negotiators will travel to Washington for the next round of trade talks with the United States on Thursday and Friday, says the commerce ministry.

Liu will meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the ministry said in a brief statement.

Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, China's central bank governor Yi Gang, and the National Development and Reform Commission's deputy head Ning Jizhe will also attend the trade talks.

This comes as China hit back at the United States over the blacklisting of 28 mainland entities accused of being implicated in rights violations against mostly Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, saying the claims are "groundless."

Beijing expressed "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to the blacklist and defended its policy in the western frontier region, where rights groups say more than one million Uygurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are held in re-education camps.

"There is no such thing as these so-called 'human rights issues' as claimed by the United States," said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. "These accusations are nothing more than an excuse for the United States to deliberately interfere in China's internal affairs."

Washington placed eight Chinese technology giants on the blacklist. The companies include two video surveillance companies - Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology - that by some accounts control as much as a third of the global market for video surveillance and have cameras all over the world.

Also targeted were SenseTime Group - the world's most valuable artificial intelligence startup - and fellow AI giant Megvii Technology, which is said to be aiming to raise up to US$1 billion (HK$7.8 billion) in a Hong Kong initial public offering.

Backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba, the pair are at the forefront of China's ambition to dominate AI in coming years.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, and his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, spoke in generally upbeat terms about this week's discussions with China. But he insisted he would not be satisfied with a partial deal.

"We think there's a chance we could do something very substantial," Trump said, referring to minister-level talks. "I would much prefer a big deal and I think that's what we're shooting for."

Trump also warned China that if the country does anything "bad" to quell protests in Hong Kong, trade negotiations with the US would suffer. "They have to do that in a peaceful manner," he said.

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