China has warned any agreements with Washington in their talks on settling a sprawling trade dispute "will not take effect" if threatened us sanctions including tariff hikes go ahead.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Liu He, China's economic czar, led the weekend negotiations, after several days of talks by lower level officials.
The Trump Administration said Tuesday that the USA would follow through with tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese imports, defying a trade truce reached last month in Washington.
No joint statement was issued at the end of Sunday's meeting in Beijing, and there has been no response to the Chinese comments by the United States side. Trump officials are considering levies on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, as well as new restrictions on Chinese investment in the USA and tighter export controls. "This is about structural changes", Mnuchin said Saturday.
"China is willing to sit down and negotiate - the country does have a need to import more consumer goods and natural gas", he said.
The outcome of the talks should be based on the prerequisite that the two parties meet each other halfway and will not engage in a trade war, according to the statement. The US has a massive trade deficit with China. That comes at the same time Trump has riled some of America's closest allies with the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The US and China have threatened each other with $US150 billion in tariffs.
"Tariffs and expanding exports - the United States can't have both", it said.
"I want to be clear, this isn't just about [China] buying more goods, this is about structural changes", Mnuchin said.
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"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", Ross told the media after dining with Liu on Saturday evening.
After a three-day meeting of finance ministers from the G7 industrial nations that ended Saturday in Canada, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau issued a summary saying the other six members want Trump to hear their message of "concern and disappointment" over the USA trade actions.
The looming tariff hikes have also raised hackles among U.S. trade partners in Canada, Mexico and the European Union, stoking fears that a full-scale trade war could erupt within days.
The U.S. team had also wanted to secure greater intellectual property protection and an end to Chinese subsidies that have contributed to overproduction of steel and aluminum.
Bruno Le Maire, France's finance and economy minister, also called the USA tariffs unjustified.
It's when countries attack each other's trade with taxes and quotas.
"Chinese officials know these talks are precarious, but may underestimate the domestic political cost Trump now sees in lifting the ZTE ban without major concessions from China", said Andrew Gilholm, the director of China analysis at Control Risks, a political and security consulting firm.
The US pressure over technology policy reflects growing American concern about China's status as a potential competitor and complaints Beijing improperly subsidises its fledgling industries and shields them from competition.