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Trump Warns China to Act on U.S. Trade Deal or Face Worse Terms

President Donald Trump said it would be wise for China to “act now” to finish a trade deal with the U.S., warning that “far worse” terms would be on offer for them after what he predicted would be his certain re-election in 2020.

“I think that China felt they were beaten so badly in the recent negotiation that they may as well wait around for the next election,” Trump said Saturday in a pair of early-evening tweets. “The only problem is that they know I am going to win.”

Trump’s comments came a day after talks between the two economic superpowers ended without a resolution, the U.S. increased its tariffs on billions of dollars of imports, and China made clear what it wants to see from the U.S. in talks to end their trade war.

In a wide-ranging interview with Chinese media after talks in Washington ended Friday, Vice Premier Liu He said that in order to reach an agreement the U.S. must remove all extra tariffs, set targets for Chinese purchases of goods in line with real demand, and ensure that the text of the deal is “balanced” to ensure the “dignity” of both nations.

Liu’s conditions underscore the work still to be done if an accord is to be reached between the world’s two largest economies. Trump’s own negotiators told China it has a month to seal a deal or face tariffs on all its exports to the U.S.

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That threat was made during talks Friday in Washington, hours after Trump upped the ante by imposing a second round of punitive duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods. China vowed retaliation, but hadn’t announced any details as of early Sunday morning in Beijing.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the administration would on Monday release details of its plans for tariffs on an additional $300 billion in imports from China, setting the process in motion for Trump to deliver on the threat to hammer all Chinese trade.

U.S. officials insist they have been working on a deal that would bring an end to what they portray as China’s rampant theft of American intellectual property and rein in the industrial subsidies that have fueled the rapid ascent of Chinese corporate giants.

Trump’s move to raise tariffs on Friday came after China backed away from prior commitments to enshrine changes promised at the negotiating table in Chinese law, according to U.S. officials. During his meetings in Washington this week Liu said China was ready to commit to pushing reforms via State Council directives but again balked at changing any laws, according to one person familiar with the discussions.

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In his interview Liu said both sides agreed to keep talking despite what he called “some temporary resistance and distractions,’’ and to hold future meetings in Beijing. He dismissed the idea that talks had broken down. “It’s normal to have hiccups during the negotiations. It’s inevitable.”

Liu also struck a note of defiance. “For the interest of the people of China, the people of U.S. and the the people of the whole world, we will deal with this rationally,” the vice premier said. “But China is not afraid, nor are the Chinese people,” adding that “China needs a cooperative agreement with equality and dignity.”

‘Candid and Constructive’

In a series of tweets that cheered markets, Trump declared Friday that the talks with China had been candid and constructive. “The relationship between President Xi and myself remains a very strong one, and conversations into the future will continue,” he said. Further talks are possible, but there’s no immediate plan for the next round, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Liu’s comments, however, revealed yet another new fault line: a U.S. push for bigger Chinese purchases to level the trade imbalance than had originally been agreed.

According to Liu, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed “on a number” when they met in Argentina last December to hammer out the truce that set off months of negotiations. That “is a very serious issue and can’t be changed easily.”

The amount of purchases by China should be “in line with reality,” according to a commentary by state news agency Xinhua on Saturday. China also sees the removal of all the extra tariffs that have been imposed since last year as a precondition to a deal, whereas U.S. negotiators see retention of some duties as a key mechanism to enforce a deal.

Story cited here.