China 'cautiously optimistic' on US talks
• By Yawen Chen And David Lawder
• May 12, 2019
China and the United States have agreed to hold more trade talks in Beijing, Vice Premier Liu He says, as US President Donald Trump ordered his trade chief to begin the process of imposing tariffs on all remaining imports from China.
Liu voiced a measured optimism on reaching a deal, but said there were "issues of principle" on which China would not back down.
"Negotiations have not broken down," Liu, China's chief negotiator in the talks, said in Washington on Friday, according to state television on Saturday.
"Quite the opposite, I think small setbacks are normal and inevitable during the negotiations of both countries. Looking forward, we are still cautiously optimistic," Liu said.
But Liu's optimism was tempered by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who told CNBC on Friday that there were no further talks with China planned "as of now".
And on Saturday, Trump tweeted: "Such an easy way to avoid Tariffs? Make or produce your goods and products in the good old USA. It's very simple!"
The US escalated a tariff war with China on Friday by hiking levies on $US200 billion ($A286 billion) worth of Chinese goods in the midst of last-ditch talks to rescue a trade deal.
Trump had delayed the tariffs as negotiations between Washington and Beijing were progressing.
On Friday, Trump issued orders for the tariff increase, saying China "broke the deal" by reneging on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations.
China strongly opposes the latest US tariff hike and as a nation has to respond to that, Liu told a small group of Chinese reporters according to a video clip.
"Right now, both sides have reached mutual understanding in many things, but frankly speaking, there are also differences. We think these differences are significant issues of principle," Liu said.
"We absolutely cannot make concessions on such issues of principle."
He added that talks would continue in Beijing, but gave no details. But underscoring a lack of progress in the talks, Trump ordered a further escalation of tariffs.
Trump's move would subject about $US300b ($A429b) worth of Chinese imports to punitive tariffs, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement on Friday.
Lighthizer said a final decision has not been made on the new duties, which would come on top of an early Friday tariff rate increase on $US200b worth of Chinese imports.