China has agreed to open up its market to US credit rating agencies and credit card companies as well as resume imports of US beef as part of a package hailed by the Trump administration as the first step in redefining the trade relationship between the world’s two largest economies.
The 10-point package unveiled Friday was billed as an “early harvest” from the 100-day plan to reset the trade relationship that Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Donald Trump agreed to pursue when they met in April.
According to a US announcement the two sides had also agreed to discuss extending that initial 100-day period into a one-year plan.
It also marks the latest sign that the new US president is adopting a far less confrontational approach to his relationship with Beijing than he promised during last year’s election campaign when he threatened to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese goods and label China a currency manipulator.
Although Mr Trump and his aides still complain regularly about the more than $300bn US trade deficit with China the new US president has begun to display a greater appreciation for the complexities of geopolitics. Much of the change in tone has come about as Mr Trump has sought China’s help in trying to rein in its ally in North Korea as the regime in Pyongyang continues to develop long-range missiles and threaten new nuclear tests.
Under the agreement rolled out on Friday the US announced that it would send a delegation to Beijing’s upcoming “One Belt, One Road” summit, offering its symbolic endorsement of Mr Xi’s pet strategic project to revive the ancient Silk Road to Europe.
In return, China would send a delegation to a US meeting for foreign investors in July with the Trump administration promising equal treatment for China despite a push in some circles in Washington for it to take a tougher line on Chinese investment, particularly in strategic sectors.
“The United States welcomes direct investment by Chinese entrepreneurs as it does by entrepreneurs from other countries,” a joint statement read.
But the agreement also contains tangible gains that Mr Trump will be able to claim as wins, although close watchers of the US-China relationship pointed out that they were in many cases commitments Beijing had made before or agreed to with the Obama administration.