U.S., China brace for fight

WASHINGTON (AP) — With negotiations on hold and tariffs piling up, the United States and China appear to be bracing for a prolonged standoff over trade.

Beijing is airing Korean War movies (antagonist: America) to arouse patriotic feelings in the Chinese public and offering tax cuts to software and chip companies as U.S. export controls threaten Chinese tech companies.

In Washington, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is talking to Walmart and other companies about finding ways to ease the pain if President Donald Trump goes ahead with plans to extend import taxes to the $300 billion in Chinese products that haven’t already been hit with tariffs.

And the Trump administration is working on an aid package for American farmers hurt by China’s retaliatory tariffs on soybeans and other U.S. agricultural products — on top of last year’s $11 billion farm bailout.

Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wrapped up an 11th round of talks with the Chinese earlier this month without reaching an agreement to resolve a dispute over Beijing’s aggressive efforts to challenge American technological dominance. The U.S. charges that China is stealing technology, unfairly subsidizing its own companies and forcing U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets if they want access to the Chinese market.

“It’s really hard to identify whether this the beginning of a prolonged conflict or just negotiating tactics,” said David Dollar, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former official at the World Bank and U.S. Treasury. “I increasingly think that this is going to turn into a long-term trade conflict. We have to entertain the possibility that there is no deal.”

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