Trump says China wants to negotiate with U.S. over trade war

President Donald Trump said on Monday China had contacted U.S. trade officials overnight to say they wanted to return to the negotiating table, welcoming the news as a very positive development for the world.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit of major industrialized nations, Trump hailed Chinese President Xi Jinping as a great leader and said he welcomed his desire for a deal and for calm.

An increasingly bitter trade war between the world’s two largest economies sharply escalated on Friday, with both sides leveling more tariffs on each other’s exports.

China called last night our trade people and said let’s get back to the table,” Trump said. “They understand how life works.”

The president said the U.S. would accept the Chinese invitation and return to the negotiations.

Earlier, China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, had used an appearance in China to call for a de-escalation in tensions.

“We are willing to solve the problem through consultation and cooperation with a calm attitude,” Liu said at the opening ceremony of 2019 Smart China Expo in Chongqing, Caixin reported on Monday. “We firmly oppose the escalation of the trade war,” he said, adding that it “is not conducive to China, the U.S. and the interests of people all over the world.”

The world’s two largest economies traded further blows over the weekend, with Beijing’s retaliation on an earlier tariff increase by the U.S. meeting yet another increase from Trump, who said that existing 25 percent tariffs on some $250 billion in imports from China would rise to 30 percent come Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Economists are warning that a global recession could result from the spiral of trade measures.

China welcomes all foreign investors, including those from the U.S., Liu said, adding that policy makers will keep building a favorable environment and protecting property rights. He stressed that China has ample macro-policy tools to ensure the country’s economic fundamentals have “good momentum.”

China on Friday threatened to impose more tariffs on $75 billion of American goods, prompting Trump to announce even higher tariffs on Chinese goods and call for American companies to pull out of Asia’s largest economy.

Liu spoke an event focused on high-tech industries such as big data, artificial intelligence, semi-conductors and 5G. He said China opposes technology blockades and protectionism, and is trying hard to maintain the completeness of supply chains.

Taoran Notes, a blog run by the state Economic Daily, said Monday that Liu’s remarks showed that China is not being “taken hostage by emotions.” At the same time, the blog said that this stance didn’t preclude fighting back.

“If someone continues to misread China’s rational and calm attitude, and holds the illusion that they can continue maximum pressure and China won’t fight back, then China has no other option but to retaliate as in the past,” it said.

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