President Donald Trump says the United States has not “folded” in trade negotiations with China as both countries get set for another round of meetings.
“We have not seen China’s demands yet,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “The U.S. has very little to give because it has given so much over the years. China has much to give.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin opens two days of talks in Washington with Chinese officials Thursday.
“These meetings are a continuation of the talks held in Beijing two weeks ago and will focus on rebalancing the United States-China bilateral economic relationship,” the White House says.
They are also aimed at avoiding a full-blown trade war after the U.S. and China exchanged tariffs in March.
Trump reminded the country Wednesday that the U.S. has been losing hundreds of billions of dollars a year and countless U.S. manufacturing jobs because of its trade deficit with China.
But despite his tough talks on China, Trump wants to rescue China’s giant technology company ZTE, puzzling many lawmakers.
ZTE was forced to close one of its plants and cease major operations after the U.S. Commerce Department barred it from buying American-made components for its consumer products. ZTE had been using those components in goods sold to Iran and North Korea, a violation of U.S. trade embargoes.
The president said earlier this week that “too many jobs” were being lost in China because of ZTE’s problems, and he ordered the Commerce Department to help it “get back into business, fast.”
Republican Senator Marco Rubio told VOA that the Commerce Department’s sanctions on ZTE are “a law enforcement function that really shouldn’t have anything to do with trade. … Chinese telecom companies are agents of the Chinese government. They don’t just steal national security secrets, they steal commercial secrets.”
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also talked to VOA, saying Trump does not know how to fight when it comes to balancing trade issues.
“The president talked big about wanting to have a fair trade relationship with China and folded immediately on the ZTE issue.”
Pelosi said Trump’s motives over ZTE are hard to understand, but said he will face serious opposition in Congress if he tries to use ZTE as a bargaining chip.
Michael Bowman and VOA Mandarin contributed to this report.