China has scrapped trade talks with the United States days before President Trump is set to escalate the commercial battle with a new round of tariffs, according to a person familiar with the discussion.
Chinese officials canceled the planned negotiations after Trump announced he would impose new levies of up to 10 percent on another $200 billion in Chinese imports, effective Monday. Beijing vowed to immediately strike back, slapping duties of up to 10 percent on an additional $60 billion in American products.
Beijing had prepared to send Vice Premier Liu He, the country’s top-ranking economic official, to Washington next week, along with a mid-level delegation to prepare for his visit, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been expected to oversee the talks, which were called in hopes of easing tensions between the world’s two largest economies, U.S. officials have said.
The effort crumbled a week after Trump tweeted the White House felt “no pressure” to resolve the dispute with China. He has accused the country of stealing intellectual property from American businesses, among other trade infractions.
“We are under no pressure to make a deal with China, they are under pressure to make a deal with us,” he wrote, adding: “If we meet, we meet?”
Chinese President Xi Jinping has refused to bend to the White House’s demands amid escalating threats from Trump. The U.S. president has pledged to place tariffs on virtually everything the United States buys from China if Beijing responds with the new duties.
China’s next round of tariffs, slated to take effect Monday at noon, target more than 5,200 kinds of American imports, including industrial parts, chemicals and medical instruments.
“In order to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests and the global free trade order, China will have to take countermeasures,” the country’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement Tuesday. “We deeply regret this.”
Trump’s latest levies bring more uncertainty into the status of negotiations, Chinese officials said at the time, suggesting the economic conflict could drag on indefinitely.
By next week, the United States and China could be poised to impose tariffs on their entire trade of goods, which surpasses $635 billion annually.
Trump’s next opportunity to meet with Xi is in November at the G-20 summit in Argentina. Both leaders are expected to attend the multilateral conference.