China says its top trade negotiator and vice premier Liu He will visit Washington for a new round of talks this week despite a US pledge to go ahead with a tariff hike on Chinese goods.
China's government has confirmed its economy tsar will go to Washington as scheduled this week for trade negotiations despite President Donald Trump's threat of new tariff hikes in a fight over Beijing's technology ambitions.
Vice Premier Liu He will visit Washington on Thursday and Friday for the 11th round of talks on the tariff war, the Commerce Ministry said. It said he would meet his American counterparts, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Tuesday's announcement indicated Beijing decided to go ahead with high-level negotiations despite fears it might cancel or downgrade the talks to show frustration with Trump's surprise threat.
The one-sentence statement gave no indication whether other details such as the size of China's delegation might change.
China's alleged backsliding
On Monday, Lighthizer accused Beijing of reneging on previous commitments, indicating a sharp increase in escalation in a year-long trade dispute.
Mnuchin, who briefed reporters with Lighthizer, said that Trump administration learned over the weekend that Chinese officials "were trying to go back on some of the language" that had been negotiated in 10 earlier rounds of talks.
Both officials offered no details of China's alleged backsliding, and there was no immediate response from Beijing.
The US officials said the administration will raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.
Trump had announced plans to raise those tariffs via Twitter on Sunday, expressing frustration with the pace of negotiations.
The reiteration on Monday of the president's threat from high-level Trump officials reinforced the administration's determination to throw Beijing on the defensive.
By threatening to raise taxes on Chinese imports, Trump is throwing down a challenge to Beijing: Agree to sweeping changes in China's government-dominated economic model — or suffer the consequences.
Possibility of 'no deal'
The unexpected ultimatum shook up financial markets, which had expected the world's two biggest economies to resolve the standoff over trade, perhaps by the end of the week.
"It's a significant change in the president's tone," said Timothy Keeler, a partner at the law firm Mayer Brown and former chief of staff for the US Trade Representative.
"It certainly increases the possibility that you'll have no deal."
For weeks, Trump administration officials had been suggesting that the US and Chinese negotiators were making steady progress.
The two countries are engaged in high-stakes commercial combat over China's aggressive push to establish Chinese companies as world leaders in cutting-edge fields such as robotics and electric vehicles.
The US accuses Beijing of predatory practices, including hacking into American companies' computers to steal trade secrets, forcing foreign firms to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market and unfairly subsidising Chinese firms at the expense of foreign competitors.
The Trump administration has imposed 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports and 25 percent tariffs on another $50 billion. The Chinese have retaliated by targeting $110 billion in US imports.