NEW YORK -- Chinese Vice Premier Liu He met U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Thursday, on the sidelines of talks aimed at averting a trade war.
Liu told Trump that China and the U.S. "need to implement the significant consensus reached by their heads of state" and to "meet each other halfway, respect each other, and work together to push forward bilateral ties in a healthy and stable manner," China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Trump told Liu that he wishes the countries' delegations will work constructively to find common ground between China's and the U.S.'s economic interests.
The trade talks started on Thursday and will go on through Friday. China's delegation is headed by Liu, a close aide to President Xi Jinping. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are representing the U.S.
The Chinese side is expected to pledge a significant increase in the amount of goods it buys from the U.S. as part of the negotiations. The New York Times reported that the package could approach $200 billion in trade concessions. It would allow Trump to "claim a major victory in his campaign to rebalance America's trade relationship with its biggest economic rival," the Times said.
Trump addressed trade earlier in the day when he faced reporters ahead of a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. "We have many of the Chinese here today as you know, big delegations negotiating trade because the U.S. has been ripped off for many, many years by its bad deals," Trump said.
"China's become very spoiled," the president said, arguing that China was responsible for $500 billion of an $800 billion trade deficit last year. He also cited the European Union, Japan and South Korea as countries that have been taking money out of the country "by the bucket loads."
"As the expression goes, when you're losing $500 billion a year on trade, you can't lose the trade war, you've already lost it," he said.
Trump, who lauded his close relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said he didn't "blame China," but rather, previous U.S. administrations. "We've had horrible representatives in this country that have allowed other countries to get away with murder," the president said, before asserting that "those days are gone."
The future of Chinese telecommunications company ZTE's dealings with the U.S. is also expected to come up during the trade conversations. Shock waves reverberated around Washington on Sunday when Trump tweeted that he had directed the Commerce Department to bring ZTE back into business.
"President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost," the tweet read.
ZTE was shuttered earlier this month following a U.S. tech sales ban on the company in response to its evasion of Iran and North Korea sanctions. A tweet the following day justified the policy walk-back by noting the company's purchase of U.S. parts.
Xi had asked Trump to take a look at ZTE, Trump told reporters Thursday. "I certainly said I would ... out of great respect," Trump said. "I like him, he likes me, we have a great relationship."
"But anything we do with ZTE it's just a small component of the overall deal," he noted. "I can only tell you this: We're gonna come out fine with China. Hopefully China's gonna be happy, I think we will be happy," Trump said.