"We respect all countries' right for freedom of navigation and flight under global law, but we firmly oppose any action to jeopardize the sovereignty and security of countries under the pretext of freedom of navigation", Hua said Monday.
Mnuchin appeared at a Beijing hotel a couple of days ahead of scheduled high-level meetings with Chinese officials in the capital, with a March 1 deadline looming to strike an accord. A ceasefire, agreed to allow for discussions with a view to brokering a permanent truce, is due to expire on March 1. "I believe you all see through these small tricks by the US side", Hua told a regular news briefing in Beijing.
"At some point, I expect to meet with President Xi, who I have a lot of respect for a like a lot, and make the parts of the deal that the group is unable to make". There have already been two high-profile meetings between the two countries since the start of the year, though the amount of progress made remains unclear.
On Tuesday, Trump said while he is not inclined to extend the March 2 deadline, he might let it "slide for a little while" if talks go well.
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President Trump has said he will not agree to any trade deal with China without meeting with President Xi first, though this meeting is not expected to happen before the March deadline.
"When the time is right, the hope would be that the personal chemistry that exists (between Trump and Xi) will pay dividends", said Erin Ennis, senior vice-president at the U.S.
China's Foreign Ministry referred questions on talks to the Ministry of Commerce, which did not respond to a request for comment. Many China trade hawks, inside and outside the administration, believe that raising the tariff to 25 percent may be necessary to force China to make the necessary concessions. USA officials are pressing China to stop stealing intellectual property from American companies and commit to deeper reforms to a state-driven economic model that they say hurts US competitors.