Donald Trump says meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping will be ‘very difficult’

Samuel Osborne
Donald Trump sharply criticised China during his election campaign: EPA

Donald Trump has said his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping will be "very difficult."

The US President took to Twitter to say next week's meeting with China "will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses."

He said: "American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives."

Mr Trump and the Chinese President will hold their first face-to-face talks next week, a highly anticipated meeting between leaders at odds over trade, China's strategic ambitions, and how to deal with North Korea's weapons programs.

The White House said Mr Trump would host Mr Xi next Thursday and Friday at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida. It said Mr Trump and his wife Melania will host Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan at a dinner next Thursday.

It will be the first meeting between the two premiers since Mr Trump's began on 20 January, amid heightened tensions between the world’s two largest economies over issues including North Korea, the disputed South China Sea, Taiwan and trade.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang gave no details of the agenda, but spoke of the need to see the big picture while fostering mutual interests in trade relations.

"The market dictates that interests between our two countries are structured so that you will always have me and I will always have you," he told a regular briefing.

"Both sides should work together to make the cake of mutual interest bigger and not simply seek fairer distribution," he said.

US officials say the need for China to do more on North Korea, the large US trade imbalance with China, and Beijing's pursuit of expansive claims in the South China Sea will top the agenda. Mr Trump has sharply criticised China on all of the issues.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing the meeting was be an opportunity for Mr Trump "to develop a relationship in person with President Xi."

"He's spoken to him on the phone a few times, but we have big problems ... everything from the South China Sea, to trade, to North Korea. There are big issues of national and economic security that need to get addressed."

Asked whether the administration had a vision, or a description for its China policy like the "pivot" or "rebalance" to Asia touted by former President Barack Obama, Mr Spicer said: "Right now we're not worried so much about slogans as much as progress. There's a lot of big things that we need to accomplish with China, and I think that we will — we will work on them."

The summit will follow a string of US-China meetings and conversations aimed at mending ties after strong criticism of China by Mr Trump during his election campaign.

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