China will reduce trade barriers, Trump says

US brushes off threat posed by Chinese tariffs

Kudlow said a "coalition of the willing" was being formed to pressure President Xi Jinping, including by taking the issue to the World Trade Organization, to crack down on China's trade practices.

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017.

The Trump administration is also pushing for a crackdown on what it says is China's theft of USA intellectual property. Wonderful foreseeable future for both countries!

United States stocks plunged more than two per cent Friday after Trump warned of tariffs on an additional US$100 billion (RM387 billion) worth of Chinese imports, provoking a strong response from Beijing and fanning fears of a full-blown trade war.

In the wake of Trump's decision in March to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, primarily to target China, the U.S. on Tuesday published a list of US$50 billion in Chinese goods to be hit by tariffs over what Washington says is widespread theft of intellectual property and technology.

But the response from the White House on Sunday was mixed on how the US was actually settling its bad blood with China.

In a commentary on Sunday, Xinhua News Agency said the trade tensions were a "fight between unilateralism and multilateralism, and a fight between protectionism and free trade".

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The president made fixing the trade imbalance with China a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, frequently using incendiary language to describe how Beijing would "rape" the U.S. economically. Still, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the threat of tariffs is not merely a negotiating tactic with China.

The comments follow a week of rising tensions on trade, punctuated by the president's surprise order late on Thursday that the US identify additional Chinese goods to target and Beijing's immediate vow that it won't back down.

"You'll know when we reach a deal there's progress, and that's our objective", Mnuchin said.

Some analysts say the Trump administration has correctly identified some of Beijing's unfair trade policies but that tariffs may be counterproductive. It has threatened to respond proportionately and "counterattack with great strength" if the US makes good on the latest proposal.

On the other hand, over prior weeks Mohammed El-Erian and Martin Feldstein had argued that what mattered was not trade deficits but getting China to respect intellectual property rights, which in the longer term could bring about a better global trading system. "So far, no tariffs and no action have been enacted".

"How cynical it is for the Chinese, basically, rather than respond graciously and stop doing all this bad stuff they're doing, to attack American farmers?" He also said that though the U.S. hoped to avoid taking action, Trump "was not bluffing". And Beijing warned Friday that it will "counterattack with great strength" if the United States ups the ante.

Asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" about Trump's Sunday tweets and whether China has given any sign of concessions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said "it would be inappropriate for me to comment on what our back-channel discussions are".

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