China Trade Hawk Navarro to Attend Trump Dinner Meeting With Xi

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be joined at their meeting Saturday by top U.S. trade officials including a White House adviser, Peter Navarro, who’s famed for his hawkish views on China.

The two leaders will meet for dinner following the Group of 20 summit in Argentina to discuss ways to ease escalating tensions between their two countries over trade and halt their escalating tariffs war. The event in Buenos Aires has been moved up by an hour to 5:30 p.m. local time, the White House said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow will also attend the bilateral discussions in Buenos Aires, according to a White House statement listing the U.S. delegation for the dinner.

Investors will be scrutinizing the outcome of Trump’s meeting with Xi for signs that the U.S. and China are ready to declare a truce in the brewing trade war between the world’s two biggest economy. Trump has threatened to impose more tariffs on Chinese imports if the talks don’t yield sufficient progress.

On Friday, Trump projected optimism that his “big meeting” with Xi will be fruitful, saying that he saw “some good signs” as his staff continued to negotiate with Chinese officials.

The U.S. leader’s schedule opened up on Saturday after he canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and then scrapped a press conference out of respect for the family of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who died late Friday night.

Trump is scheduled to depart for Washington after meeting with Xi.

Navarro’s presence at the dinner risks causing friction with the Chinese leader’s team. He was initially not scheduled to travel to Buenos Aires but has been seen in the Argentine capital since exiting Air Force One on Thursday evening.

An economist who co-wrote a book titled “Death by China,” Navarro is known for favoring a tougher stance with Beijing over trade. He has pushed for imposing U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese imports in response to long-standing Trump administration complaints about intellectual property theft and forced transfers of technology.

Navarro’s role in the talks has been closely watched in China, with newspapers such as the South China Morning Post viewing his presence as an indicator of whether Trump and Xi can reach a deal. He has taken a harder line on China than others in the Trump administration, criticizing Mnuchin in May for declaring a pause to the trade war and this month warning Wall Street bankers to stop pushing Trump for a quick deal with Xi.

Other attendees on the U.S. side, according to the White House, include National Security Adviser John Bolton and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who’s a senior adviser to the president.

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