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Liu is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and chief of the Chinese side of the China-U.S. comprehensive economic dialogue. At the meetings last week between lower-level Chinese and US officials, negotiations almost stalled as the two sides failed to reach an agreement on details for increasing Chinese purchases of USA crude oil, soybeans, natural gas, beef, and poultry.

The Chinese statement said the two sides made "positive and concrete progress", but neither side released details.

Private sector analysts say Beijing may be willing to trim its trade surplus, but it will resist changes that might threaten its plans to transform China into a global technology competitor.

But state news agency Xinhua carried a statement which warned against a trade war and said the two sides should meet each other half way. He added that "economic reform and opening up, as well as increasing domestic consumption, are China's national strategies - and our established pace of reform won't change".

"That's a relationship with China that structurally has to change", he said.

Although the Chinese refused to agree to specific numerical targets that the Trump administration officials sought, the agreement to a broad framework to increase US exports to China was enough to prompt Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to announce that a truce in the "trade war".

"If the USA introduces trade sanctions including tariff increases, all economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties so far will be void", said a Chinese government statement issued by the official Xinhua news agency.

Trump's announcement that he wanted to proceed with tariffs on China came less than two weeks after the two countries had said they were putting threats of tariffs on hold while they continued negotiating.

He said Washington would use its move on Tuesday to slap punitive tariffs on Chinese imports as a bargaining chip.


Ross and the large American delegation had dinner Saturday evening with their Chinese hosts.

Mr Trump is pressing Beijing to narrow its politically volatile trade surplus with the United States, which reached a record $US375.2 billion ($495.7 billion) previous year.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", Ross said, in brief comments before reporters.

He spoke to reporters with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to President Xi Jinping.

Mnuchin had said on Saturday the USA wanted China to agree to structural change to its economy. China's willingness to buy more American products and allow U.S. investments with IPR protections raised hopes of an agreement, which led to current round of talks in Beijing.

Following Beijing's announcement, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the dispute was "on hold".

On Saturday, Mattis said the Trump administration's recent decision to disinvite China from an upcoming naval exercise was an "initial response" to Beijing's aggressive activities.

More than 50 US officials are in Beijing for the trade talks.


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