Chinese censors have erased online debate over US-China trade negotiations as the two countries appeared to back away from a trade war. Following the announcement on Sunday by the US treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, that proposed tariffs on Chinese goods would be put “on hold”, posts on the microblogging site Weibo discussing the agreement were quickly 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 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. “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’s huge trade deficit with China. It was not clear exactly why the comments were censored. “One reason might be that the authorities are keen to tone down any suggestion of having been forced into concessions,” David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project, wrote in a blogpost. “Another reason might be the impulse to offset language that seems to suggest bilateral trade is not, as China now likes to say, ‘win-win.’” Qiu Yi, a former politician with Taiwan’s pro-Beijing Kuomintang party and a professor at the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan and Shanghai Jiaotong University, said his comments on the talks had been deleted within an hour of him posting them. Chinese officials on Monday were keen to show Beijing had stood firm in the talks. A researcher for China’s commerce ministry said in an interview that the country had demonstrated three “bottom lines”: 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 $200bn reduction, and China upheld its right to upgrade its industry. The White House’s threatened tariffs had targeted Beijing’s “Made in China” industrial programme. “Despite all the pressure, China didn’t ‘fold’, as US President Donald Trump observed,” the state-run China Daily said in an English-language editorial. “Instead, it stood firm and continually expressed its willingness to talk.” Source: Chinese censors erase online comments as US puts tariffs 'on hold'