US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that U.S. and Chinese negotiators were holding “productive” trade talks and expected them to meet in September despite U.S. tariffs on over US$125 billion worth of Chinese imports taking effect Sept 1.
“September, the meeting is still on as I understand it, but I think more importantly than September, we’re talking by phone, and we’re having very productive talks,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey.
He said U.S. and Chinese officials had “a very good conversation” earlier this week, before his administration delayed until Dec. 15 tariffs on over US$150 billion in Chinese imports, including toys, cell phones, and laptop and tablet computers.
Nonetheless, China on Thursday vowed to counter the latest U.S. tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods but called on the United States to meet it halfway on a potential trade deal.
Trump said he did not think Beijing would retaliate for the U.S. tariffs and that he believes China wants to make a trade deal.
“I think we’re having very good discussions with China. They very much want to make a deal,” Trump told reporters. He said he had a call scheduled soon with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but he did not say when.
“I think the longer it goes the stronger we get,” Trump said of the trade war. “I have a feeling it’s going to go fairly short,” he said.
The Chinese finance ministry said in a statement that Washington’s tariffs violated a consensus reached between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a June summit in Japan to resolve their disputes via negotiation.
In a separate statement, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said, “We hope the U.S. will meet China halfway, and implement the consensus of the two heads of the two countries in Osaka.”
China hopes to find mutually acceptable solutions through dialogue and consultation on the basis of equality and mutual respect, she added.
“China, frankly, would love to make a deal, and it’s got to be a deal on proper terms. It’s got to be a deal, frankly, on our terms. Otherwise, what’s the purpose?” Trump said in an interview on New Hampshire radio station WGIR.
China will resolutely counter any provocation to the end, the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily wrote in a commentary on Friday. “By the looks of it, they know they will hit a brick wall in a cul-de-sac at some point, so now they are but slowing their pace and delaying the hit,” the People’s Daily wrote.
“By not turning back, they will ultimately hit the wall and break their heads.”
The trade picture is further complicated by continuing unrest in Hong Kong. Trump on Wednesday tied the situation to any possible agreement, saying Xi must first resolve the issues in the territory with protesters.
On Thursday, he used Twitter to call on the Chinese president to personally meet with protesters to spur “a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem.”