Trump optimistic in midst of key trade talks with China

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump, preparing to meet a Chinese trade delegation Thursday, said the United States won’t reach any final trade agreement with China until he sits down again with President Xi Jinping.

“No final deal will be made until my friend President Xi, and I, meet in the near future,” Trump tweeted.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators on Wednesday opened two days of high-level talks aimed at settling a trade war that has weakened both economies, shaken financial markets and clouded the outlook for global trade.

Trump tweeted that the meetings are “going well with good intent and spirit on both sides,” even though the odds seem stacked against any substantive resolution. Trump has set a March 2 deadline for increasing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.

He said: “All of the many problems are being discussed and will be hopefully resolved.”

But analysts doubt that the world’s two biggest economies can reach any comprehensive deal over the next month. The United States is essentially demanding that China downsize its economic aspirations to become a supreme world leader in such fields as robotics and electric cars.

The American delegation is led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a longtime critic of aggressive Chinese trade practices and of U.S. policies that failed to blunt them.

The core of the U.S. allegations against China is that Beijing systematically steals trade secrets, forces foreign companies to hand over technology as the price of access to the Chinese market and unfairly subsidizes its own tech companies.