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China Trade Talks Continue Next Week in D.C.

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping
Associated Press/Alex Brandon
Washington, DC

China’s top economic adviser will travel to Washington, DC, to continue trade talks next week with top Trump administration officials following the U.S. trade delegation’s trip to China last week. 

The news came during Monday’s White House press briefing when a reporter asked Press Secretary Sarah Sanders whether President Donald Trump had any reaction to last week’s trade talks in Beijing between a delegation of top U.S. trade officials and Chinese government officials.

Trump received a briefing on those talks Monday morning, according to Sanders. The team of U.S. trade officials who made the trade trip provided the presidential briefing. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin led the trip that involved two days of trade talks on Thursday and Friday. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Larry Kudlow, and Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro were all on the trip.

“China’s top economic advisor, the Vice Premier, will be coming here next week to continue the discussions with the President’s economic team,” said Sanders who emphasized the “great relationship” between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He was involved in the Beijing-based trade talks with the U.S. trade delegation.

“We are working on something that we think will be great for everybody,” said Sanders who promised to keep reporters “posted as discussions are ongoing.”

Trade discussions between China and the U.S. have intensified as Trump has targeted the trade imbalance between the two countries and insufficient intellectual property protections in China. 

On March 8, Trump signed orders for tariffs on steel and aluminum imports of 25 and ten percent, respectively. The move took aim at accusations of Chinese dumping practices. Just hours after the steel and aluminum tariffs had been announced, Kudlow told reporters that the Trump administration was mulling over providing China with a list of what the U.S. wants to see happen on trade with China.

Trump directed Trade Representative Lighthizer in early April to look at the potential of imposing $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports. China responded with threats of U.S. exports to China in an equal amount and targeting industries that may cause the most impact. Trump doubled down, threatening $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S.

President Xi seemed to respond to the escalation in early May by signaling a willingness to improve intellectual property protections and cut tariffs on U.S. auto imports to China. Such promises have been made before and left unfulfilled but did appear to be a change from the prior tariff threat.

Sanders responded to the message from Xi with caution at the time, calling the response encouraging but holding that the administration required, “concrete actions from China.” The administration will move forward with considering the additional tariffs until it sees such “concrete” action.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.

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