President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he will meet with China’s top trade envoy to discuss trade talks.
As senior officials returned to the negotiating table on Thursday amid a blitz of aggressive US maneuvers, Trump said on Twitter that he would meet Friday with Vice Premier Liu He, sending US stocks higher and helping to erase some the week’s losses.
The talks resumed with scant hope the economic powers would be able to strike a grand bargain any time soon, especially after an overnight news report said the Chinese side could leave early given slim progress made in preliminary negotiations.
But the atmosphere for the high-stakes discussions was shifting rapidly. Liu smiled broadly as he was greeted by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday morning.
And late Wednesday, Liu had told dignitaries in Washington that his team had come “with great sincerity” and hoped to reach a “common understanding” with the Americans, Chinese state media reported.
Following a day of meetings, officials are due to dine together on Thursday evening, US trade officials said. However, there was no word whether negotiations would continue into a second day.
Still, there was no hiding the sharp deterioration in relations this week. US duties on $250 billion in Chinese imports are due to rise in five days.
Trump — who has taken the global economy on a white-knuckle ride since launching multi-pronged trade offensives with China, Europe and other allies last year — reiterated Thursday that the outcome was down to him.
“Big day of negotiations with China. They want to make a deal but do I?” he said on Twitter.
“I meet with the vice premier tomorrow at the White House.”
Just since Monday, Washington has imposed visa restrictions on senior Chinese officials and blacklisted more than two dozen Chinese firms, accusing them of persecuting ethnic Uighur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region.
The measures have outraged Beijing and in the process penalized major players in the artificial intelligence sector, an areas where the United States and China are intense rivals.
But Trump’s attitude toward the process is subject to sudden change, given the churning pressures competing for his attention.