Jude Woodward — the author of the new book "The US vs China: Asia's new Cold War?" — joined Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear to discuss the US-China trade talks.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He, the country's top economic official, resumed talks Wednesday. If a resolution isn't reached by March 1, the US has promised to increase its 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent.
According to Woodward, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Lighthizer have taken two "conflicting" stances on the trade talks, which are expected to address US intellectual property rights.
"There have been two conflicting [stances]… coming out of the White House, with Mnuchin being very keen to say that there is going to be a deal, and Lighthizer taking a much harder line. So it's a bit hard to say [if they are going to strike a deal], and then you add on top of that the legal action against Huawei," Woodward told hosts John Kiriakou and Walter Smolarek.
On Monday, the US Justice Department unsealed a host of criminal charges, including bank fraud, obstruction of justice and theft of technology, against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou.
On top of that, China and the United States have been engaged in a trade war since US President Donald Trump announced in June that $50 billion worth of Chinese goods would be subject to 25 percent tariffs in a bid to fix the US-Chinese trade deficit. Since then, several rounds of trade tariffs have been exchanged by the two countries, Sputnik previously reported.
According to China's National Bureau of Statistics, the nation's economy grew 6.6 per cent last year, with its total GDP hitting $13.28 trillion. Although the data reveals a slowdown from 2017 (which was 6.9 percent), last year's expansion pace was above Beijing's target of 6.5 percent, Sputnik previously reported.
However, according to Woodward, China's economic slowdown is unrelated to the trade war.
"I don't think that slowdown is anything to do with the trade war. I think if you look at the fundamentals of the Chinese economy, there's been some decline in the share of the investment the economy, a whole number of issues which are totally tackleable from a domestic point of view. Obviously, trade wars don't help, and attacks on its major companies don't work," Woodward told Sputnik.
"So, I am absolutely certain the Chinese side is looking for a deal, and it's made clear what it is preparing to do."
However, according to Woodward, the 23 charges against Huawei, its subsidiaries and Meng for conspiring to steal trade secrets and violating sanctions may "toughen" up China's position during the negotiations.
"It won't be a formal factor, but I think it will affect how the Chinese approach the situation, because I think their approach will be, ‘What is the point of us offering big concessions on one front if you just come back and hit us again on a different one?' So, it may have the effect of toughening up the position of China," Woodward added.