President Donald Trump said he's open to extending a March 1 deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese products if the two sides are near an agreement, sending a conciliatory signal amid talks to resolve the trade war between the world's two biggest economies.
One source who had been briefed on the arrangements noted: "Xi is scheduled to meet both Lighthizer and Mnuchin on Friday".
USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer, center, a member of the US trade delegation to China, arrives at a hotel in Beijing, China, Feb. 12, 2019.
Referring to the ongoing trade negotiations, Donald Trump said the USA is doing very well over negotiations in China and he is happy with possible results of the talks either way.
USA tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if the two sides can not reach a deal by a March 1 deadline, increasing pain and costs in sectors from consumer electronics to agriculture. This week a White House aide said the USA president still wants to meet his Chinese counterpart soon in a bid to end the trade war.
Trump agreed in December to postpone more tariff hikes while the two sides negotiate.
China says the construction is necessary for defence, and it was the United States that was responsible for tensions by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.
Lighthizer and Mnuchin landed in Beijing on Tuesday for the latest round of trade talks, which are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, with a lower-level delegation, led by deputy trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish, holding preparatory talks in the Chinese capital since Monday.
Mnuchin, asked by reporters as he left his Beijing hotel what his hopes were for the visit, said "productive meetings".
Aides to Trump say this week's talks are important as they need to demonstrate credible progress to both the president and financial markets. He and other USA officials left their hotel on Wednesday without making substantive remarks. Trump said last week they plan to meet, but not before the March 1 deadline.
However Washington is demanding changes from Beijing on what it says are unfair commercial practices.
China has offered to boost its purchases of U.S. imports but is widely expected to resist calls for major changes to its industrial policies such as slashing government subsidies.
The International Monetary Fund warned on Sunday of a possible global economic "storm" as world growth forecasts dip, citing the US-China trade row as a key pivot point.