Updated May 7, 2019 - Economy & Business

China to send top trade negotiator Liu He to U.S.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (R) gestures as US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (C) chats with his Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. Photo: Andy Wong/AFP/Getty Images

China said Tuesday its economy czar, Vice Premier Liu He, is preparing to go to Washington, D.C., this week for crunch trade talks, as tensions between the 2 countries escalates and the U.S. tariffs deadline looms.

Why it matters: President Trump has threatened to increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%. His administration has accused China of "reneging" on its trade commitments, per Axios' Jonathan Swan — who noted U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer planned to put out a Federal Register notice Tuesday saying the tariffs increase would come into effect "the first minute of Friday.

Details: Liu will visit D.C. at the invitation of Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday and Friday, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Asian markets rebounded after the announcement, with the Shanghai Composite index jumping 0.7%, AP reports.

Between the lines: Mnuchin has said he found Liu "very helpful to work with" and he'd built a strong relationship with the vice premier, per Swan.

What they're saying: Despite the tension, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the past 10 rounds of talks had recorded positive progress, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"What's most pressing at the moment is that, we hope, the U.S. side and the Chinese side will work together to meet each other half way and strive to reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement on the basis of mutual respect. This not only serves the Chinese interests, but also the U.S. interests. It also meets the general expectation of the international community."
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