China’s Xi wants trade talks with US by Turkey Day but is ready to ‘fight back’ if necessary

“We want to work for a ‘phase one’ agreement," he says

Image Credits: JASON LEE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Beijing has been trying to avoid a trade war with Washington and wants to hammer out an initial trade pact, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday. He warned, however, that China is not afraid to retaliate when necessary.

“We want to work for a ‘phase one’ agreement on the basis of mutual respect and equality,” said Xi.

“When necessary, we will fight back, but we have been working actively to try not to have a trade war. We did not initiate this trade war and this is not something we want,” the Chinese leader said in response to questions from representatives of the New Economy Forum organized by Bloomberg in Beijing.

According to Xi, the two countries should strengthen communication on strategic issues while “Sino-US relations are at a pivotal moment amid various difficulties and challenges.”

The trade row between the world’s two biggest economies has been going on for over a year, resulting in multiple rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs and restrictions. This month, the sides decided to proportionally cancel existing tariffs in phases.

Trade experts and people close to the White House told Reuters that the ‘phase one’ trade deal’s completion could be postponed to 2020 as Beijing asks for more extensive tariff rollbacks and Washington counters with increased demands of its own.

China has invited top US trade negotiators for a new round of face-to-face talks, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified sources. According to the sources, Beijing hopes the talks could take place before next Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

US officials have indicated willingness to meet but have not committed to a date, the sources said.

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