Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
Published Monday, May 6, 2019 4:41AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 6, 2019 12:45PM EDT
BEIJING — U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to escalate tariffs on Chinese goods has clouded prospects for a trade agreement, though preparations by Beijing’s envoys to still visit Washington this week are buoying hopes for some breakthrough to end the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
Beijing is “trying to get more information” after Trump’s announcement over the weekend that he would raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10% to 25% on Friday, said a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang. Trump’s threat was seen as an effort to intensify pressure on Beijing to agree to a deal that would be to Trump’s liking.
Stock markets initially plunged Monday after Trump’s Sunday tweet over fears that China would abandon the latest round of talks in Washington, scheduled to resume Wednesday. U.S. stocks later regained some of their lost ground on hopes that the negotiations would proceed.
Still, Geng offered no details on when exactly the talks would resume or who would join the Chinese delegation. He would not say whether Vice Premier Liu He, who has led China negotiators in previous rounds, will travel to Washington.
The lack of details suggested that Beijing is wrestling with an internal conflict: Eager, on the one hand, to end a high-stakes trade fight that has battered Chinese exporters yet reluctant, on the other, to appear to bow to the Trump administration’s demands for far-reaching trade concessions.
“We hope the United States will join efforts with China and we can meet each other halfway so we make a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of win-win and mutual respect,” Geng said.
The two governments have raised tariffs on hundreds of billions of