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China to visit US next week to sign trade deal


CHINA's trade delegation tentatively plans to spend four days in Washington from January 13 to sign the first phase of a trade deal with the US that would herald a truce, a source familiar with the matter told the South China Morning Post.

Led by Vice-Premier Liu He, China's delegation initially planned to head off earlier this month but had to change their travel schedule after US President Donald Trump sent a tweet on New Year's Eve claiming that he would sign the deal with "high representatives" from Beijing on January 15 in the White House.

While the two sides had anticipated that they would finalise their phase one negotiations by January, the Chinese side had not expected Mr Trump to make a unilateral announcement about the date, or to say that he would be willing to sign the deal even if President Xi Jinping was not available.

The Chinese side has now decided to revise its plan to accommodate Mr Trump, and will return to China on January 16, although Washington and Beijing have yet to officially confirm Vice-Premier Liu's visit.

Mr Trump is trying to take full credit for the phase one deal as a major "win" for the US and for himself in an election year, however the Chinese have been less inclined to make a major show of it.

A person in Washington who is familiar with the bilateral relationship said the change was understandable given Mr Trump's desire to gain political weight from the China deal.

"I can't think of a single instance where Trump, if he can get credit, didn't take it," the person, who declined to be named, said. "It was always going to be the case that Trump would decide how the thing's presented and where and what his role is ?and the Chinese would obviously defer to that."

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