China won’t succumb to “threats” from the U.S., a senior government official said, hours before talks are set to begin Thursday with a delegation of the Trump administration’s top trade policy officials.
The official said the government won’t accept any U.S. preconditions for negotiations such as abandoning its long-term advanced manufacturing ambitions or narrowing the trade gap by $100 billion, said the official, who asked not to be named, citing protocol.
The U.S. team arrived in Beijing Thursday morning and will meet Chinese officials later in the day and for dinner, the State Department said. Further talks are set for Friday before the officials depart Beijing in the evening. No details of planned press conferences were given.
Trump administration officials this week have already lowered expectations for a breakthrough, saying the trip could be cut short if it’s not satisfactory and that President Donald Trump will have the final say on accepting any deals.
“Our great financial team is in China trying to negotiate a level playing field on trade!” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “I look forward to being with President Xi in the not too distant future. We will always have a good (great) relationship!”
China’s unique political system and centralized leadership mean that it will have more endurance should a trade war break out, the official said. China won’t compromise on its core interests, and is prepared for all possible outcomes of the meeting, the official said.
Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to President Xi Jinping, will lead the delegation meeting Thursday and Friday with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House advisers Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro.
Tensions between the two biggest economies have been rising as the U.S. banned sales of crucial American technology to telecommunications-gear maker ZTE Corp. and is said to be probing Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest mobile and telecommunications company.
Xi said Wednesday China must firmly control major technologies and rely on domestic innovation, echoing comments from days earlier when he used a visit to a semiconductor company in Wuhan to say the industry must make major breakthroughs.
The official Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary Wednesday that the U.S. should show sincerity in trade talks instead of making unreasonable demands. China will take retaliatory steps of the same intensity if the U.S. puts tariffs on its goods after the talks, Xinhua said.