Peter Navarro and Steven Mnuchin feuded at Beijing trade talks

White House trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro a member of the U.S. trade delegation to China leaves a hotel in Beijing

White House trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro a member of the U.S. trade delegation to China leaves a hotel in Beijing

One person close to Navarro said the White House official believes he is the target of a leak campaign meant to further sideline him during the Liu visit, at perhaps the most pivotal moment in the trade talks between the USA and China.

What we're hearing: On the Trump delegation's trip to China two weeks ago, Navarro "blew up" at Mnuchin over his decision to participate in one-on-one talks with his Chinese counterpart Liu He.

The U.S. -China trade talks in DC this week are a continuation of those Beijing-based trade meetings.

The unresolved feud has contributed the White House's uneven approach to its trade negotiations with China in recent days, as White House officials have given different, at time contradictory descriptions about what the discussions' aims and about what is and what isn't up for debate. The report said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will represent the the talks.

Navarro's shift away from a lead role in the talks comes amid a growing rift over trade policy with Mnuchin, who has favored more achievable deals to open China's economy to US firms and ease tariff threats.

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According to press reports, Mr Navarro sparred with Mr Mnuchin over his handling of the China talks and was barred from attending the meetings this week.

"ZTE not only violated US sanctions law (by selling USA telecoms equipment to Iran and North Korea), but then repeatedly lied about steps it would take to remedy the problems", the senators said.

The comments followed Mr Trump's surprise announcement on Sunday that the administration was exploring ways to soften the blow from a ban on exporting crucial USA technology to the company, which Washington says violated sanctions and misled U.S. officials.

But Trump's tweet on Wednesday seemed to indicate there would be relief for ZTE only if China and the United States reach a larger trade deal.

He also said the USA has not yet seen China's demands yet and added, "There has been no folding as the media would love people to believe". Navarro also anxious that Mnuchin is leading the administration down the wrong path on trade with China, said the source briefed on the trip.

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Accused by Democrats of going soft on China and national security, Trump lashed out at the media on Wednesday in a series of tweets, accusing CNN and The Washington Post of writing "false stories" about the trade negotiations, which he said, "haven't even started yet".

The two nations' shared interests far outweigh their differences, said Liu, adding that both countries will win if they work together, and lose if they are pitted against each other.

The president surprised many in Washington over the weekend by saying he's working with Xi to help ZTE "get back into business, fast".

Close to 125 witnesses are scheduled to testify at the hearings, which conclude on Thursday, in a sign of the concern in the US business community over the administration's move. "So, it's really hard to know at this point what to expect from an outcome because it could be anything - or nothing, I guess", she said. The administration has been adamant that they need to see "concrete" actions from the Chinese if they hope to avoid potential new USA tariffs on Chinese imports that would address China's unfair trade practices and stealing of intellectual property.

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