US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (left) listens as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He talks while they line up for a group photo at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Feb 15, 2019.
The talks opened as a Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Liu He sat down with a United States team led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross; Larry Kudlow, a key White House economic adviser; and Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser. That marks the end of a 90-day truce that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to when they met in Argentina late past year.
This fourth round of negotiations follows two days of preliminary talks at the deputy level. Mr. Trump has said the outcome of the talks will help decide whether he escalates a technology dispute by going ahead with a March 2 tariff hike on $200 billion of imports from China.
The trade war between the USA and China was launched by Mr Trump on July 2018, when the U.S. slapped sweeping tariffs on Beijing after accusing the country of unfair trade practices - including intellectual theft.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has pushed for China to open its financial services markets to more foreign firms, including credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, which have waited years for China to make good on promises to allow them to operate there.
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Washington has demanded that Beijing reverse much of its industrial policy, charging that China has sought global dominance through the alleged theft of American technology, massive subsidies and the promotion of mammoth state-owned enterprises. The issues include an enforcement mechanism to ensure that China complies with any agreements.
As officials hold high-level talks on Thursday and Friday in Washington, they remain far apart on demands made by US President Donald Trump's administration for structural changes to China's economy.
President Trump said on Tuesday that talks with China were going well and suggested he was open to pushing off the deadline to complete negotiations, saying March 1 was not a "magical" date.
"I'm sure they'll come up with something that will be more than cosmetic but less than we're asking", he said. Some of the specifics of the deal, namely USA demands that China reform some of its economic policies, are stalling talks, Reuters reported Wednesday. -China trade deal, Bloomberg reported.
Trump is threatening higher tariffs on Chinese goods in an effort to make Chinese President Xi Jinping more pliable. Trump said on Tuesday he thought China had an incentive to move swiftly.