Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

China's Xi to meet U.S. officials as tariff deadline looms

China's Xi to meet U.S. officials as tariff deadline looms

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned allies on Monday against deploying equipment from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on their soil, saying it would make it more hard for Washington to "partner alongside them". An American delegation is in Beijing to conduct bilateral trade talks with China. "President Trump and President Xi sitting down face-to-face figuring that out and getting that final deal because they are the only two that'll ultimately be able to nail that down", Sanders said.

President Donald Trump said he is open to letting a March 1 deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese products pass without penalty if the two sides are near an agreement, sending a conciliatory signal as talks to resolve a trade war between countries continue.

"They feel that it is humiliating for China", he said.

High-level discussions, led by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, are due to begin on Thursday as both sides rush to make progress before the 1 March deadline.

Their deputies have met since Monday to make preparations. Many China trade hawks, inside and outside the administration, believe that raising the tariff to 25 percent may be necessary to force China to make the necessary concessions.

Beijing has tried to deflect pressure by emphasizing China's growth as an export market.

It is unclear whether that will satisfy Washington and other governments that complain the system is rigged to extract technology from foreign companies and to use official industrial standards to shield Chinese enterprises from competition.

Portman, who served as USTR during the George W. Bush administration, added that the Trump administration "is committed to structural reforms at this point" and Trump is less likely to settle for a deal mainly focused on increased purchases of US commodities. Extending the deadline could pave the way for a potential deal-clinching meeting with President Xi Jinping.

Trump has said he did not expect to meet with Xi prior to March 1.

According to media reports, the meeting may take place in Vietnam on 27-28 February.

And what if Trump goes ahead with a March 2 tariff hike to step up pressure on Beijing?

During a South China Sea freedom-of-navigation operation in September, a Chinese destroyer challenged a US vessel to a showdown, forcing the US Navy ship off course and risking a deadly collision.

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