President Trump named noted China sceptic Robert Lighthizer as US envoy during the next round of trade talks with Beijing, suggesting that Washington is gearing up for a harder line during a key 90-day negotiation period, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The pick of Lighthizer, also US Trade Representative, may come as a surprise to the Chinese team, who have spent much of this year’s negotiations dealing with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Lighthizer has consistently lambasted Chinese trade policies, opposing the nation’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 and guiding the president away from potential deals with Beijing over the past two years.
Trump accompanied the appointment with optimistic tweets regarding progress on the talks. “Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward!” the president tweeted. “Very good things will happen. We are dealing from great strength, but China likewise has much to gain if and when a deal is completed. Level the field!”