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US China trade: Beijing still planning to send a delegation to Washington talks

CNN logo CNN 5/7/2019 By Sherisse Pham, CNN Business
Steven Mnuchin standing in front of a flag: China's top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, will lead a delegation to Washington on Thursday. © ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images China's top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, will lead a delegation to Washington on Thursday.

China is sending its top trade negotiator to Washington this week despite a surprise threat from US President Donald Trump to escalate a damaging dispute with Beijing.

China's Commerce Ministry said on Tuesday that a delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He will visit Washington on Thursday and Friday to participate in trade talks, a day later than originally planned.

The truncated schedule comes after US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that China had reneged on previous commitments in recent days, undermining progress towards a detailed trade deal between the two countries.

Trump warned over the weekend that he would raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese products to 25% from the current 10%, starting Friday. He also said he would tax nearly all of China's remaining exports to the United States "shortly" because of the slow pace of progress on a trade deal. The threats had prompted reports that China was considering pulling out of trade talks set to start on Wednesday.

"China always holds the view that mutual respect, equal footing and mutual benefits are the pre-conditions for reaching any deal. Raising tariffs won't resolve issues," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday.

China is "sincere in continuing the negotiations," he added.

The US president's renewed tariff threat alarmed investors around the world, sending global markets plunging on Monday. On Tuesday, markets recovered some of that lost ground, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closing around 0.5% higher, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.7%.

Trump appeared to be reviving an old playbook by threatening to ratchet up tariffs on Beijing in the hopes of applying pressure on China to force negotiators to strike a deal.

Earlier this year, Trump said he was prepared to enact new sanctions and increase existing ones if a deal wasn't struck by March 1, but he then shelved those plans.

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