By Jon Dougherty, editor-in-chief
In another sign that the Trump administration’s ‘get tougher’ approach with Bejing regarding trade policies and theft of U.S. technology is working, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to invite POTUS Donald Trump to additional talks with President Xi Jinping during an Oval Office meeting on Thursday.
The invite would come ahead of a March 1 deadline when the Trump administration is scheduled to impose additional tariffs on another $200 billion worth of goods and sevices imported from China, though a Trump-Xi meeting could come after that, the South China Morning Post reported.
Quoting a business lobbyist in close consultations with Trump administration trade negotiators, the paper said that at the White House meeting Liu is expected to “formally, on behalf of President Xi, make that offer for the two presidents to meet”, said Myron Brilliant, executive vice-president and head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Brilliant made his remarks during a conference call with reporters. He has been in contact with members of the administration’s trade team, which is currently in the final day of a two-day high-stakes session in Washington with a delegation from China headed by Liu.
“There’s question marks about the location and question marks about the timing,” said Brilliant, according to the SCMP.
He noted that a meeting could occurr after the March 1 deadline, when the administration is expected to impose tariffs of 10 to 25 percent hundreds of billions of Chinese goods if no trade deal is reached.
On Thursday, POTUS Trump hinted that a deal could be in the offing, or that more time would be granted to make one.
“This is going to be a very big deal”, he said, “or it’s going to be a deal that we’ll just postpone for a little.”
An agreement for the two leaders to meet might be the most substantial one to come from the two-day talks. Brilliant said there had not been much progress on Chinese demands for technology transfers as well as industrial subsidies.
But regardless of what is discussed, ultimately “no deal that doesn’t have trust and verification components is going to be a good deal that will get the blessing of the president of the United States or the business community,” Brilliant said.
Earlier, we reported that the Chinese Communist Party leadership was becoming unsettled by the lingering trade war and tariffs after the country’s economy slowed noticably for the first time in decades.
After leaders wrapped up a four-day conference in Beijing in which Wang Huning, the party’s ideology adviser and its fifth most powerful member, called on cadres in the provinces to fight “a tough battle” in controlling risks, Xinhua reported.
In an address to the assembled party leaders, Wang recounted a growing list of risks to internal stability that Beijing is facing as the trade war drags on and tariffs are taking a bite out of Chinese economic growth, which is the slowest since 1990.
Also, Li Ruogu, the one-time head of the Export and Import Bank of China (China EXIM), the massive state-owned lending institution that provides funding to foreign companies for the purchase of Chinese-made goods and services, said this month he pleaded with the government to avoid a tit-for-tat trade war with the United States, according to the transcript of a just-published speech from September.
“When the weak side is fighting a war against the strong side, the weak side must know how to make a retreat. It will not work if the weak side only knows how to fight head-to-head,” Li said, according to the speech transcript.
“Therefore, I suggest that we must pick our battles. A concession is not a surrender, it is intended to win the advantages [down the road]. I don’t think a tit-for-tat approach is workable in the U.S.-China trade dispute,” Li added.
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