A second day of trade dispute talks between the USA and China ended Tuesday without word of any progress, as an official newspaper warned not to push Beijing too hard.
Negotiators began the talks Monday on the trade war launched by U.S. President Donald Trump in July with tariff hikes on Chinese goods in response to complaints that Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. "Both sides agreed to keep in close contact", the statement said.
As of 8:25 pm in Beijing, neither the Chinese side nor the Americans had released a statement - a possible sign of message coordination as the United States delegation returned to Washington.
USA officials also conveyed Trump's commitment to address his country's trade deficit with China and to resolve structural issues to improve trade between both countries, according to the USTR.
Share prices had risen Wednesday after President Donald Trump fueled optimism about possible progress by saying on Twitter talks were "going well!"
President Trump has said if no deal is reached before the truce expires on March 2, he will increase duties on $200bn worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%.
The U.S. has also long complained about China's government subsidies that make Chinese products cheaper than U.S. goods on the world market. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Fox Business Network, "We're optimistic". US crude, which has jumped 15 percent in 2019, dropped 52 cents to $51.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.3 percent to 26,394.06, while the Shanghai Composite index was flat at 2,545.05.
The World Bank this week cut its outlook for the global economy as growth in trade and investment slowed and rising interest rates sapped momentum, especially in emerging markets.
China also restarted purchases of American soybeans last month, providing relief for a crop hit by Chinese retaliatory tariffs.
The US highlighted China's pledge to purchase more agriculture and other goods, without providing specifics.
"It seems there have been no fist fights internally between the two delegations", a person familiar with the progress of the talks told CNN on Tuesday, describing them as "constructive".
The USTR said officials broached those topics and discussed the need for any agreement to include "complete implementation subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement". "Instead of making honest efforts to solve its domestic problems, it resorts to unilateralism and protectionism, breaks the rules-based global order, coercing allies to accept unfair treaties, triggering trade frictions with China, and blocking technology transfer while trying to contain China's rise".
Companies in both the United States and China are feeling the pain from the effects of the U.S. The mid-level talks were the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since their leaders met on 1 December 2018.
"If it is immediately after these talks, it really means that something executable is going to happen; if it is next month or so, then you have a feeling that things are not really that executable for the moment".
Later this month, Lighthizer is expected to meet with Vice Premier Liu He, Xi's top economic aide who is leading negotiations for China.
The US delegation, led by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, had been scheduled to end its visit on Tuesday.
Chinese officials complain about controls on "dual use" technology with possible military applications.
USA companies also want action on Chinese policies they complain improperly favor local companies.