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China says to have in-depth talks with U.S. on economic, trade issues

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China and the United States will have in-depth discussions on economic and trade issues during Chinese Vice Premier Liu He's U.S. visit next week, the Chinese commerce ministry said on Thursday.

Both sides are currently in touch on the detailed arrangements surrounding his visit on Jan. 30-31, Gao Feng, spokesman at the commerce ministry, told reporters.

Reports the United States has canceled consultations with China are untrue, Gao said, adding that the two sides have maintained close contact.

"During the upcoming high-level negotiations, both sides will continue to hold in-depth talks on various economic and trade issues of mutual concern," Gao said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to increase tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports on March 2 unless China takes steps to protect U.S. intellectual property.

Trumps also wants China to end policies that force American companies to turn over technology to a Chinese partner, allow more market access for U.S. businesses, and reduce other non-tariff barriers to American products.

China has repeatedly played down complaints about intellectual property abuses, and has rejected accusations that foreign companies face forced technology transfers.

Firms in both countries are feeling the sting of U.S. tariffs and retaliation from China. Apple Inc earlier this month rattled markets by cutting its sales outlook, blaming soft Chinese demand.

On Wednesday, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said he believed the United States and China could reach a trade deal by March 1.

That view was backed by equally optimistic comments by Trump on progress made in talks.

"I like where we are right now," he said.
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