Murmurs of a possible meeting between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his Chinese counterpart are reported this morning in The Wall Street Journal by Lingling Wei and Bob Davis. They write:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he may be heading to Beijing for trade negotiations, suggesting an easing of U.S.-China tensions that have widened to include big-name companies in both countries.
Mr. Mnuchin said Saturday he is considering the China trip, and on Sunday, China’s Commerce Ministry said in a terse statement that “the Chinese side welcomes this.”
The display of good will, following weeks of harsh words from both sides, gives rise to hope of a thaw in a trade stalemate that has seen both countries slap tariffs on some goods and threaten to impose them on a lengthening list of products.
“It’s very likely” that Mr. Mnuchin will make the trip, said a Chinese official with knowledge of Beijing’s decision-making process. Mr. Mnuchin, who declined to comment on the timing of the visit, said he is “cautiously optimistic” about reaching an agreement with Beijing that could defuse the bilateral trade conflict that has rattled world markets in recent weeks.
Mr. Mnuchin told reporters Saturday that he met with Yi Gang, China’s central-bank governor, at the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Yi passed along Mr. Mnuchin’s message about his interest in going to Beijing, according to people familiar with the matter.
U.S. officials say Mr. Mnuchin might be accompanied by other U.S. officials, including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The prospect of a Mnuchin trip to Beijing has divided administration advisers, some of whom argue he could get ensnared in negotiations that would yield marginal results. The Trump administration has criticized prior administrations for being too willing to accept minor changes in Chinese practices.
Read more here.