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Trump and Xi last year in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua/Li Tao via Getty Images

Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s chief economic adviser, said China should be prepared for a massive slate of new tariffs absent a breakthrough in Trump’s meeting at the G20 on Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and it needs to understand that Trump will continue his hardline approach as long as he’s in office.

Why it matters: Trump threatened to raise existing tariffs on China to 25% and impose tariffs on an additional $267 billion in Chinese imports "if we don’t make a deal" in yesterday’s interview with the Wall Street Journal. Kudlow said in a briefing with reporters Tuesday that it’s up to Xi to change Trump’s mind because, "as we’ve all learned, he means what he says." He also insisted that it’s Trump who enters the meeting with the upper hand: "We’re strong, they’re not. From an economic standpoint, I like the position we’re in frankly. I like our negotiating position."

Kudlow said the meeting was "a great opportunity" for a breakthrough, but only if China comes in with new ideas and far more flexibility than they’ve shown thus far. He mentioned intellectual property, forced technology transfers, "so-called joint ventures" and cyber hacking as key issues for discussion.

  • There's been considerable speculation that Trump and Xi will agree to a short-term truce, in part because the markets would react so negatively if, as Kudlow warned was possible, things "deteriorate more."
  • Kudlow said Trump has shown some optimism about the meeting, but has grown deeply frustrated by China's "unsatisfactory responses" to his demands.

Between the lines: Axios contributor Bill Bishop says Kudlow is right, to a degree, that the Chinese "don't seem to understand that the tactics that worked in the past in D.C. no longer do."

  • On that note, Kudlow added, "President Xi might have a lot more to say in the dinner. I hope he does by the way, I think we all hope he does so we can break through the barriers, these impasses. Because at the moment, we don’t see it."

What to watch: The meeting will take place over dinner at the summit in Buenos Aires, where Trump will also be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kudlow said the Xi meeting won't just be about trade, as Trump's national security team also has agenda items.Go deeper:

Go deeper

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.

Bush labels Clyburn the “savior” for Democrats

House Majority Whip James Clyburn takes a selfie Wednesday with former President George W. Bush. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush credited Rep. James Clyburn with being the "savior" of the Democratic Party, telling the South Carolinian at Wednesday's inauguration his endorsement allowed Joe Biden to win the party's presidential nomination.

Why it matters: The nation's last two-term Republican president also said Clyburn's nod allowed for the transfer of power, because he felt only Biden had the ability to unseat President Trump.

GOP research firm aims to hobble Biden nominees

Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Joshua Roberts/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican-aligned opposition research group America Rising is doing all it can to prevent President Biden from seating his top Cabinet picks.

Why it matters: After former President Trump inhibited the transition, Biden is hoping the Republican minority in Congress will cooperate with getting his team in place. Biden hadn't even been sworn in when America Rising began blasting opposition research to reporters targeting Janet Yellen and Alejandro Mayorkas.