US president says China wants to negotiate over trade war

According to Trump, China said: 'Let's get back to the table', but Chinese officials say they're unaware of discussions.

    President Trump's latest comments follow a sharp escalation in tit-for-tat tariffs between China and the US [Carlos Barria/Reuters]
    President Trump's latest comments follow a sharp escalation in tit-for-tat tariffs between China and the US [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

    President Donald Trump said on Monday he believed China wanted to make a trade deal after contacting United States trade officials overnight to say it wanted to return to the negotiating table.

    China's lead negotiator in the US trade talks earlier on Monday said Beijing was willing to resolve its trade dispute with the US through "calm negotiations" and resolutely opposed the escalation of the conflict.

    Speaking on the sidelines of a G7 summit in Biarritz, Trump hailed Chinese President Xi Jinping as a great leader and said the prospect of talks was a very positive development for the world.

    "China called last night our top trade people and said, 'let's get back to the table', so we'll be getting back to the table, and I think they want to do something," Trump said on the sidelines of the G7 meeting.

    "They've been hurt very badly but they understand this is the right thing to do," he said.

    Asked by reporters about Trump's remarks shortly after the American president spoke, Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, said that he was not aware of any weekend US-China phone calls. He repeated China's position that the trade war should be settled through negotiation.

    An increasingly bitter trade war between the world's two largest economies sharply escalated on Friday, with both sides levelling more tariffs on each other's exports.

    Before Trump spoke, global stock markets reeled, while China's yuan currency fell to a fresh 11-year low. Investors streamed into the safe harbours of sovereign bonds and gold.

    Negotiations would start very soon, Trump said.

    "I think we are going to have a deal," he added. "They have supply chains that are unbelievably intricate and people are all leaving and they are going to other countries, including the United States by the way, we are going to get a lot of them too."

    SOURCE: News agencies