Is the Trump administration losing the China trade war?

US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping

US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled in a speech last month that the tariff cut would be coming.

The US Commerce Department said Wednesday it launched an inquiry that could allow the Trump administration to impose tariffs on auto imports over national security concerns.

"This was not a quid pro quo or anything else", he added.

ZTE however was singled out somewhat due to concerns that it was supplying technology with American made components to U.S. sanctioned countries such as North Korea and Iran. -China trade talks and said any deal would need "a different structure", fueling uncertainty over current negotiations and sending USA stocks lower. ZTE also agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine.

Chinese government officials however are undertaking negotiations on behalf of ZTE and the company, which does not have much influence in the process, will have to accept the terms of any settlement reached between Beijing and Washington. There was a touch of Trump's prime time show, The Apprentice, in the flourish with which he declared that he would extend a lifesaver to the Chinese telecom giant ZTE which was on a death watch after the impositions of USA sanctions by his own administration.

"If these reports are true, the fines and board changes will do nothing to protect American national or economic security and are simply a diversion from the fact we have lost", Schumer said.

But he didn't get into many details, saying, "I don't like to talk about deals until they're done".

Improved access to the Chinese market is a key demand of United States negotiators, who say Chinese rules put global firms at a disadvantage.

Critics of the deal have also complained that it is silent on broader economic issues important to the USA, including Chinese acquisition of American technology; the country's plans to subsidise growth of advanced domestic industries such as artificial intelligence and clean energy; and United States companies' access to China's markets.

Tariffs Trump had proposed for US$50 billion (NZ$72 billion) in Chinese goods are ready to be enacted at his command, after a public comment period expired on Tuesday. "So I'm looking at it", he said.

After days of negotiations, the USA and China announced on Tuesday that Beijing would dramatically reduce its tariffs on imported American vehicles and auto parts from 25% to 15%. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., told reporters he had met with farmers and ranchers in his office all morning and that none of them believed this latest development would help them.

"There was a difference when Kim Jong Un left China the second time", Trump said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is headed to China next week for further trade talks.

Another Commerce, Science and Transportation member, Richard Blumenthal, said he hopes "the president will be tougher and more effective". "We have a long way to go", he said.

The tariff reduction is seen as an olive branch to the Trump administration.

The House of Representatives is voting this week on its annual defense authorization bill which contains a provision which would prevent the military from working with contractors that use ZTE devices and networks.

Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping asked him to look into the fate of ZTE after the firm said it had to shut its production because the US banned sale of American-made components ZTE uses to manufacture an array of technology products until 2025. The Senate measure, introduced by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat to wrote the legislation.

Meanwhile, China made few concessions to the USA concerns about intellectual property theft and government subsidies that triggered the stand-off.

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