MORRISTOWN (New Jersey) • US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that United States and Chinese negotiators were holding "productive" trade talks and he expected them to meet next month despite US tariffs on over US$125 billion (S$174 billion) worth of Chinese imports taking effect on Sept 1.
"September, the meeting is still on as I understand it, but I think more importantly than September, we're talking by phone, and we're having very productive talks," Mr Trump told reporters in New Jersey.
He said US and Chinese officials had "a very good conversation" earlier this week, before his administration delayed until Dec 15 tariffs on over US$150 billion in Chinese imports, including toys, cellphones, and laptop and tablet computers.
Nonetheless, China on Thursday vowed to counter the latest US tariffs on US$300 billion of Chinese goods, but called on the US to meet it halfway on a potential trade deal.
Mr Trump said he did not think Beijing would retaliate against the US tariffs and that he believes China wants to make a trade deal.
"I think we're having very good discussions with China. They very much want to make a deal," Mr Trump told reporters. He said he had a call scheduled soon with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but he did not say when. "I think the longer it goes, the stronger we get," he said of the trade war. "I have a feeling it's going to go fairly short."
The Chinese Finance Ministry said in a statement that Washington's tariffs violated a consensus reached between Mr Trump and Mr Xi at a June summit in Japan to resolve their disputes via negotiation.
DEAL ON U.S. TERMS
China, frankly, would love to make a deal, and it's got to be a deal on proper terms. It's got to be a deal, frankly, on our terms. Otherwise, what's the purpose?
'' U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, in an interview on a New Hampshire radio station.
DEAD END FOR U.S.
By the looks of it, they know they will hit a brick wall in a cul-de-sac at some point, so now they are but slowing their pace and delaying the hit. By not turning back, they will ultimately hit the wall and break their heads.
PEOPLE'S DAILY, official paper of the Chinese Communist Party, in a commentary published yesterday.
In a separate statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said: "We hope the US will meet China halfway, and implement the consensus of the two heads of the two countries in Osaka."
She said China hopes to find mutually acceptable solutions through dialogue and consultation on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Mr Trump, who is seeking re-election next year and had made the economy and his tough stance on China a key part of his 2016 campaign for the White House, on Thursday said any agreement must meet US demands.
"China, frankly, would love to make a deal, and it's got to be a deal on proper terms. It's got to be a deal, frankly, on our terms. Otherwise, what's the purpose?" he said in an interview on New Hampshire radio station WGIR.
China will resolutely counter any provocation to the end, the Chinese Communist Party's official paper People's Daily wrote in a commentary published yesterday.
"By the looks of it, they know they will hit a brick wall in a cul-de-sac at some point, so now they are but slowing their pace and delaying the hit," the People's Daily wrote. "By not turning back, they will ultimately hit the wall and break their heads."
The trade picture is further complicated by continuing unrest in Hong Kong. Mr Trump on Wednesday tied the situation to any possible agreement, saying Mr Xi must first resolve the issues in the territory with the protesters.
On Thursday, he used Twitter to call on the Chinese President to personally meet protesters to spur "a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem".
Mr Trump and Mr Xi had in June agreed to restart trade talks after negotiations stalled earlier this year. But earlier this month, the Trump administration said it would slap duties beginning on Sept 1 on US$300 billion of Chinese goods, which would effectively cover all of China's exports to the US.
He said the partial delay to Dec 15 for about half the list was aimed at sparing retailers and consumers pain during the Christmas selling season.
The tariff plan has roiled global markets and further unnerved investors as the trade dispute between the world's two largest economies stretches into its second year with no end in sight.