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Beijing mum on Trump-Xi meeting at G20 summit

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 9, 2017 China’s President Xi Jinping (L) and US President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.<br />President Donald Trump on September 18, 2018 accused China of seeking to influence upcoming US elections by taking aim at his political support base in the countries’ escalating trade war. “China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me,” Trump tweeted.Trump’s comments came a day after he targeted another $200 billion in Chinese imports with tariffs starting next week, drawing an immediate vow of retaliation from Beijing. / AFP PHOTO / NICOLAS ASFOURI

China on Tuesday did not confirm a planned face-to-face meeting between President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart Donald Trump, after the US leader threatened new tariffs against Beijing amid an escalating trade war.

Trump said a meeting with Xi has been “scheduled” during the G20 summit in Japan later this month, and that he expected the Chinese leader to attend.

“We have noticed that the US has repeatedly publicly expressed its expectation that the Chinese and US heads of state will meet during the G20 summit,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing.

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“If there is any news in this regard, we will release it in due time.”

A Trump-Xi meeting would mark a turning point in the bruising trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies, which has spooked markets worldwide and sparked worries about the global economy.

Negotiations to resolve the dispute stalled last month after Washington increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, sparking retaliation from Beijing.

Trump told CNBC on Monday that he would be “surprised” if Xi did not attend the meeting.

“I think he’s going, I haven’t heard that he’s not,” the US president told the channel.

Asked if a no-show by Xi would lead to tariffs kicking in on a further $300 billion in Chinese imports, Trump said: “Yes it would.”

Trump has been trying to strongarm China into fundamental changes in trade and economic policies that he argues have for decades put the United States at an unfair disadvantage.

Beijing, meanwhile, has said that while it is willing to negotiate, it will not be bullied into compromising on its core principles.

“China does not want a trade war,” Geng said. “If the US is willing to negotiate on an equal footing, our doors are always open.”

“If the US insists on escalating trade frictions, we will resolutely respond and fight until the end.”


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