0431 GMT January 19, 2019
Earlier on Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a group of visiting US politicians that China and the United States could overcome their differences and get relations back on track if they worked together in a spirit of mutual respect, Reuters.com reported.
China and the United States are locked in an increasingly bitter trade war, and both countries have already placed tariffs on some of each others’ imports.
Trump has long threatened to impose tariffs on all $500 billion-plus goods that the United States imports from China if Beijing fails to meet his demands for sweeping changes to its policies on intellectual property, technology transfers, industrial subsidies, and local market access.
He and Xi are due to attend the G20 summit in Argentina, which starts at the end of this month.
“Just had a long and very good conversation with President Xi Jinping of China. We talked about many subjects, with a heavy emphasis on Trade,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter. “Those discussions are moving along nicely with meetings being scheduled at the G-20 in Argentina. Also had a good discussion on North Korea!”
Meeting a group of Republican lawmakers in Beijing, China’s Li noted the China-US relationship’s “ups and downs” over the past four decades of diplomatic ties.
“We do hope that China and the United States will meet each other halfway and work together in the spirit of mutual respect and equality,” Li told Trump’s fellow Republicans.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander told Li that the delegation was there “to show our respect to a great country and a great people,” and that the two countries “are competitors but not adversaries.”
Alexander said he would be discussing trade with Li, though neither of them mentioned the ongoing tariff war in remarks in front of reporters.
Earlier this week, Trump said he thought there would be “a great deal” with China on trade, but warned that he had billions of dollars worth of new tariffs ready to go if a deal did not materialize.
The United States has already imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has responded with retaliatory duties on $110 billion worth of US goods.