Mnuchin hopes for 'productive' trade meetings in China

Deputy trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish was due to lead the US delegation in preparatory meetings to begin on Monday the White House had said

Deputy trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish was due to lead the US delegation in preparatory meetings to begin on Monday the White House had said

A second source said that Xi is expected to meet the U.S. delegation in Beijing this week, although the specific timing has not yet been confirmed.

Xi will meet on Friday with officials including US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Chinese media reported.

Chinese officials expressed tentative optimism about making a breakthrough in its trade dispute with the United States as the two sides resumed talks.

Trump's comments on the China trade talks helped fuel a broad rally in the US stock market, along with the president's comments that he did not anticipate another government shutdown despite not being "happy" with a tentative congressional deal for border security funding.

James Green, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University, believes China is seeking a Xi-Trump meeting, hoping it would make a near-term deal on tariffs far more likely.

White House advisor Larry Kudlow told Fox Business last week, "There is a pretty sizable distance to go in U.S".

The high-stakes dispute has raised concerns it could spill over into the global economy after Trump a year ago hit China with 25 percent punitive tariffs on $50 billion in goods, and then imposed 10 percent duties on another $200 billion in annual imports.

Mnuchin told reporters in Beijing late on Tuesday he was eager to start. The US labelled the Chinese warship's actions unsafe and unprofessional, while Beijing said the US was threatening the safety and sovereignty of China. He and other USA officials left their hotel on Wednesday without making substantive remarks.

China's delegation will be led by Vice Premier Liu He, who will be joined by central bank governor Yi Gang.

Trump kept open that possibility on Tuesday but also indicated that he would prefer not to extend the deadline.

Washington is pressing Beijing to make changes to its economic policies, which it says unfairly favour domestic companies through subsidies and other support.

China has offered to boost its purchases of USA imports but is widely expected to resist calls for major changes to its industrial policies such as slashing government subsidies.

Beijing and Washington remain at loggerheads over USA allegations for China's militarisation of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.

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