Leading Trump administration officials have arrived in China for talks aimed at defusing tensions that threaten to plunge the world’s two biggest economies into a damaging trade war.
Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross are leading the delegation, which Mr Trump said was “trying to negotiate a level playing field”.
The two-day visit, which will see the US officials meet Chinese vice-premier Liu He, comes after the President said the US would impose tariffs on about $50bn of Chinese exports and Beijing responded with its own levy plans.
Chinese state media said Beijing wanted the talks to produce “feasible solutions to put an end to the ongoing feud” but that it would “stand up to the US’ bullying as necessary”.
China Daily said in an editorial: “The US wants greater access to China’s market, but it should not use trade actions as a battering ram to force China to open its doors.
“It is already in the process of opening them wider.”
Our great financial team is in China trying to negotiate a level playing field on trade! I look forward to being with President Xi in the not too distant future. We will always have a good (great) relationship!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018
The editorial added that China expected Washington in turn to open its markets to Chinese investments and competition.
Mr Trump made the threat of imposing large tariffs on China – as a way of levelling the playing field for American workers – a centrepiece of his election campaign.
He has demanded a $100bn reduction in the annual $375bn US goods trade deficit with China.
Trade experts think Beijing will offer the US delegation a package of policy changes, including previously announced moves, such as easing rules on joint ventures, reductions in car tariffs and increased purchases of American goods.
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A breakthrough deal is seen as unlikely, though short-term measures could see the Trump administration delay the imposition of tariffs.
The US has separately this year also announced levies on all steel and aluminium imports to the US, though temporary exemptions have been granted to the EU – which had threatened retaliation – as well as Mexico and Canada.