A White House official predicts a “frank exchange of views on the [US and China’s] trade and economic relationship” when senior figures from the two governments meet in Washington this week, Reuters reports.
Liu He, a senior Chinese economic adviser and close ally of President Xi Jinping, arrived in Washington Tuesday and will meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, according to the official.
It appears likely that Liu will receive a frostier reception than any Chinese official for many years. White House aides told Reuters that President Donald Trump has become “increasingly frustrated by the soaring U.S. trade deficit with China” and is considering slapping new tariffs on steel and other imported products.
Meanwhile, Trade Representative Lighthizer appeared to brace Congress for further tensions with China on trade when he submitted a strongly-worded annual report on the president’s trade agenda, the Washington Post reports.
The report stated that the US would use “all available tools” to combat unfair practices and would vigorously defend the country against “hostile” powers, a likely allusion to China and Russia.
“The tone is very different,” Christine McDaniel, an economist at George Mason University, told the Washington Post. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen this aggressive and protectionist a tone before in a trade agenda.”