The talks lasted for three days in Beijing — one day longer than had been previously announced, which analysts said indicated the discussions were making some progress.
Gao Feng, a spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry, said Thursday afternoon that the length of the meeting indicated that both sides were serious and honest. He added that the structural issues that made progress during the talks included forced tech transfers and the protection of intellectual property rights.
Another signal that experts cheered: China’s top trade negotiator Liu He reportedly stopped by the negotiating room on Monday, which was unexpected given that the talks were just meant to be held at the vice-ministerial level.
During a Chinese foreign ministry briefing on Monday, spokesperson Lu Kang said that “China is sincere about properly resolving trade frictions on the basis of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and reciprocity,” according to an official translation. He would not confirm a media report saying Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan will meet with US President Trump during the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
In early December, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary ceasefire, giving both sides until March to reach some agreement on trade and issues such as the forced transfer of technology.
Trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies escalated last year, putting global stock markets on edge. The U.S. announced tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, while Beijing countered with its own.
—CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng and Reuters contributed to this report.