U.S.-China trade war: Beijing says both sides have expressed a desire to hammer out a deal

China Vice Premier Liu He’s presence at the trade talks "shows he’s in charge,” said one China expert.

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/ Source: CNBC.com
By Evelyn Cheng, CNBC and Everett Rosenfeld, CNBC

As officials from Beijing and Washington met to attempt to hash out their countries’ ongoing trade dispute, China’s foreign ministry said Monday that both sides had expressed a will to work together in order to implement the consensus of their respective presidents.

Lu Kang, spokesman at the foreign ministry, told reporters that China is willing to resolve its trade disputes with the U.S. — on equal footing.

Those comments come as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish leads a working team in China for a two-day round of trade discussions set to conclude on Tuesday.

Commenting on an image tweeted by a Wall Street Journal corespondent apparently showing China’s top trade negotiator, Liu He, making an appearance at the trade talks, Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote, “Good signs in this photo. That’s a lot of people in the room. Serious working-level discussions. And Liu He’s drop-by shows he’s in charge.”

Trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies escalated last year, putting global stock markets on edge. The U.S. announced tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, while Beijing countered with its own.

In early December, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary ceasefire, giving both sides until March to reach some agreement on trade and issues such as the forced transfer of technology.