BEIJING | The Latest: US officials arrive in Beijing for trade talks

Where should Europe be innovating? | Oli Scarff  AFP via Getty Images

"It's a big, big challenge".

Consultation between China and the United States on economic and trade issues will be constructive as long as the US delegation comes with sincerity, said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wednesday. "It has not worked well for us".

The US has called on China to reduce its bilateral trade surplus with the US by $100 billion, targeting Beijing's initiative "Made in China 2025". But experts say the U.S. government needs to come up with a smarter response. But Branstad has vowed to support Trump's tougher approach to China on trade issues.

Leading the talks for China will be Liu He, President Xi's top economic advisor and a Vice Premier.

Earlier Tuesday, Ross played down the possibility of a breakthrough. Talks are scheduled to start on Thursday.

"You never know where you are until you actually get into the conference room" and an outcome can't be prejudged, Ross said.

After being pressed several times on whether he was optimistic about the trip, Ross said "I wouldn't be going all the way over there if I didn't think there was some hope".

President Donald Trump will have the final say on accepting any USA agreement with China, Ross said, indicating he doesn't expect an announcement immediately from the meetings.

Slowing down China's tech development "is not a reasonable goal", said James Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

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"This won't be, suddenly in Beijing, a breathtaking release (that) everything is solved", Ross said.

But the administration's China hawks, Lighthizer and White House trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro, are likely to favor a harder line demanding more fundamental trade changes, even if it means tariffs and short-term economic pain.

To pressure China to play by global rules, experts and tech companies argue the U.S. government should put together a united front with allies who are also alarmed by Beijing's industrial policy.

Ross, in his CNBC interview, did not provide details on the Trump administration's specific demands on China, but said: "We have a pretty good idea of what we need to come out with".

The trade group - which represents more than 60 big tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook - said many countries share the United States' concern about Beijing's unfair trade practices.

"As an emerging market currency, the Chinese government is unwilling to let the yuan actively appreciate against other EM currencies", said Li Liuyang, senior foreign exchange analyst at China Merchants Bank in Shanghai.

Separate action against imports of aluminium and steel, following a Section 232 investigation, has targeted China more than other countries because of deals or temporary exemptions Trump has granted to USA allies, including South Korea, Mexico and Canada.

"Delegation heading to China to begin talks on the Massive Trade Deficit that has been created with our Country", he tweeted as the team prepared to leave.

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