By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said on Tuesday that the United States welcomed the resumption of talks with China on trade, while Vice President Mike Pence warned Beijing to change its behaviour so as to avoid a new cold war with the United States.
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House that the U.S. and Chinese governments were “now communicating at all levels and that’s a very good thing.”
Kudlow said “it’s pretty clear now” that Trump will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 industrialized nations meeting in Argentina later this month.
“We are working on background materials in preparation and we’re waiting for China to come back with some thoughts,” he added.
When asked if he was looking for concessions before the meeting, Kudlow said, “we would like to hear from them some responses to the things we’ve asked for in the last, I don’t know, five or six or seven months.”
Trade negotiations between the two countries had been put on pause, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last month. The United States has consistently sought concessions from China on intellectual property and technology, as well as tariffs on imports of U.S. goods.
Pence told the Washington Post in an interview that China should change its behaviour to avoid a cold war with the United States, and Trump is looking for “concrete proposals” from Beijing.
“The president’s attitude is, we want to make sure they know where we stand, what we are prepared to do, so they can come to Argentina with concrete proposals that address not just the trade deficit that we face … We’re convinced China knows where we stand,” Pence said in the interview.
Pence also said China must offer concessions on intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, restricted access to Chinese markets, respect for international rules and norms, and efforts to limit freedom of navigation in international waters, among other issues.
If Beijing does not produce proposals that satisfy Washington, the United States is prepared to increase economic, diplomatic and political pressure on China, Pence told the newspaper.
“We really believe we are in a strong position either way. We are at $250 billion [in tariffs] now; we can more than double that,” Pence said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of promises. We’re looking for results. We’re looking for a change of posture.”
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Timothy Ahmann, Lisa Lambert and David Lawder, Editing by Susan Heavey and Grant McCool)