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US President Donald Trump has claimed that Beijing wants to reach an agreement on trade issues with Washington because of China's slowing economy AFP/File

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Beijing rebuffs Trump claims over economic slowdown

US President Donald Trump has claimed that Beijing wants to reach an agreement on trade issues with Washington because of China’s slowing economy AFP/File

BEIJING, China, Jul 16 – China on Tuesday rejected claims from US President Donald Trump that it is being forced to make a trade deal because of its slowing economy, as the two sides prepare for more talks.

Beijing and Washington have been locked in a stormy trade war that has seen them hit each other with tariffs covering more than $360 billion in two-way trade.

On Monday, China published data showing its quarterly growth had slipped to 6.2 percent – the slowest in nearly 30 years.

After the publication of the trade figures, Trump tweeted: “This is why China wants to make a deal… with the U.S., and wishes it had not broken the original deal in the first place.”

But Beijing has rejected the comments.

“It’s completely misleading to say, as the US side does, that because of its economic slowdown, China is eager to reach an agreement,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“I would like to once again call on the US to work together with China, to meet halfway, and to strive for a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement, on the basis of mutual respect and equality.”

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that top American and Chinese trade negotiators are due to speak by telephone “this week”, the second such call in two weeks.

Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had a phone conversation last week with China’s Vice Premier Liu He and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan.

Geng said that an economic agreement was in the interest of both sides, and “by no means a unilateral request of the Chinese side”.

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Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month agreed to resume trade talks after discussions collapsed in early May when the American side accused Beijing of reneging on key commitments.

But no face-to-face talks have yet been scheduled.

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