BEIJING/WASHINGTON - Beijing sought to play down tensions with the United States and put on a positive face on Friday as the US administration slammed China on a range of business issues ahead of President Xi Jinping's first meeting with President Donald Trump.
Trump set the tone for what could be a tense meeting at his Mar-a-Lago retreat next week by tweeting on Thursday that the United States could no longer tolerate massive trade deficits and job losses.
Trump said the highly anticipated meeting, which is also expected to cover differences over North Korea and China's strategic ambitions in the South China Sea, "will be a very difficult one."
Ahead of the meeting, Trump signed executive orders on Friday aimed at identifying abuses that are causing massive U.S. trade deficits and clamping down on non-payment of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports, his top trade officials said.
Separately, the U.S. Trade Representative's office, which is controlled by the White House, said Beijing's industrial policies and financial support for industries such as steel and aluminum have resulted in over-production and a flood of exports that have distorted global markets and undermined competitive companies.
Seeking to downplay the rift, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated a desire for cooperation on trade.