Chinese censors erase online comments as US puts tariffs ‘on hold’

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Beijing, May 21 (IANS) Chinese censors have erased online debate over US-China trade negotiations as the two countries appeared to back away from a trade war.

After the announcement on Sunday by US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that planned tariffs on $150 billion worth of Chinese goods would be put “on hold”, posts on the microblogging site Weibo discussing the deal were immedietly deleted, according to a research initiative studying Chinese media.

A selection of the censored comments were published by the Chinese Media Project. In one, a Weibo user, referring to US President Donald Trump, said: “The madman won.”

Another deleted post said China’s bid to get US sanctions lifted on the telecommunications equipment maker ZTE had been unsuccessful, according to a report in the Guardian.

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“The other points of compromise — or kneeling, to put it more sharply — are small matters,” the user wrote, according to the project.

On Saturday, Beijing and Washington released a statement saying they had come to a consensus of “effective measures” to narrow the US’ huge trade deficit with China.

It was not clear exactly why the comments were censored. Chinese officials on Monday were keen to show that Beijing had stood firm in the talks.

A researcher for China’s Commerce Ministry said that the country had demonstrated three “bottom lines”, which were: It would not cut exports to the US in order to reduce the trade deficit, no target was set for reducing the deficit — Trump had previously pushed for a $200 billion reduction — and China upheld its right to upgrade its industry.

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The White House’s threatened tariffs had targeted Beijing’s “Made in China” industrial programme.

“Despite all the pressure, China didn’t ‘fold’, as Trump observed”, the state-run China Daily said in an editorial. “Instead, it stood firm and continually expressed its willingness to talk”.



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