BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States this week for trade talks, Beijing said on Tuesday, playing down a sudden increase in tension after U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to impose new tariffs.
U.S. officials have said China has backtracked on substantial commitments made during months of negotiations seeking to end their bruising trade war.
Those concerns prompted Trump to say on Sunday that he would raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent by the end of the week, and would “soon” target remaining Chinese imports with tariffs.
Trump’s tweets abruptly ended a five-month ceasefire in a trade dispute that has cost the two countries billions of dollars and disrupted manufacturing supply chains.
Fears that negotiations were unraveling drove global stocks and oil prices lower on Monday, and fed speculation that China could cancel Liu’s planned visit.
China’s Commerce Ministry confirmed that Liu, who leads the talks for Beijing, will visit the United States on Thursday and Friday. The ministry did not elaborate or give the expected topics of discussion.
Beijing’s response to the prospect of new tariffs has been reserved, and on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing that mutual respect was the basis for reaching a trade agreement.
“Adding tariffs can’t resolve any problem,” Geng said. FILE PHOTO: Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arrive for a group photo session after concluding their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, May 1, 2019. Andy Wong/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
“Talks are by their nature a process of discussion. It’s normal for both sides to have differences. China won’t shun problems and is sincere about continuing talks,” he said.
“We hope the U.S. side can work hard with China, to meet each other halfway, and on the basis of mutual respect and equality, resolve each other’s reasonable concerns, and strive for a mutually beneficial, win-win agreement.”
Beijing’s willingness to continue with the talks in the face of Trump’s tweets shows it would remain calm and “focus on the talks rather than engage in public opinion warfare”, the widely-read state-run Global Times tabloid said in an editorial.
In a commentary, the paper’s parent, the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said China had weathered such threats from the United States before, and would keep calm.
“China has complete confidence to face all possible difficulties and challenges in the China-U.S. economic and trade consultation process, which is why China has always been able to maintain its composure,” it said on its app.