“There is a talk scheduled for today at a different level,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Radio, without providing further details.
Trump’s comment comes after China’s commerce ministry said Aug. 29 that the two sides were discussing the next round of face-to-face trade talks scheduled for September.
“They really want to make a deal and the reason they want to make a deal is they lost millions and millions of jobs [as a result of the trade war],” Trump said.
Earlier in the week, Trump said Beijing in recent phone calls expressed its desire to make a deal and get back to the negotiating table. But the Chinese foreign ministry denied any knowledge of those calls.
The trade war escalated last week after Trump announced a tariff hike on some $550 billion worth of Chinese goods. The move came hours after Beijing unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. imports.
On Sept. 1 and Dec. 15, the United States will start levying 15 percent duties on a $300 billion list of previously untariffed Chinese imports, including consumer goods such as smartphones, apparel, and footwear.
In addition, Trump said existing tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods will rise to 30 percent from 25 percent on Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party coming to power.
China’s Commerce Ministry spokesperson Gao Feng on Aug. 29 appeared to indicate that Beijing would not further retaliate against the planned U.S. tariffs. He said China had “ample” countermeasures to retaliate against the planned U.S. tariffs, but talks in the current circumstances should focus on whether the tariffs could be canceled.
When pressed by reporters whether this meant there would be no new countermeasures, he did not confirm.
On Thursday, Trump expressed optimism for negotiations. “I think they want to make a deal. I sort of think they have to make a deal and we’ll see what happens.”
The president also said he was surprised the regime hasn’t done more to curb the flow of synthetic opioid fentanyl into the United States, which Chinese leader Xi Jinping had agreed to during a meeting with Trump at the G-20 Summit in Argentina last December.
“They made little moves but they didn’t make the moves that they said. And much of it [fentanyl] comes out—you can almost say almost all of it—comes out of China,” Trump said.
The Chinese regime’s failure to deliver on this pledge was one of Trump’s cited reasons for slapping fresh tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods.
China manufactures most of the fentanyl and fentanyl analogues found in the United States. The synthetic drugs have contributed to the current opioid crisis; the United States recorded more than 28,000 synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths in 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of them fentanyl-related.
Trump added that the regime is playing a “vicious game” by using its tariffs to target U.S. agricultural goods, which impacts farmers from the heartland states that form Trump’s base.
“They’ve targeted our farmers and I’ve made up for it,” he said. “What I did was I gave the farmers $12 billion [in subsidies] the previous year, $16 billion this year to make up, because the farmers have been targeted. That’s how vicious they play the game.”