The White House this early said president Donald Trump will again demand structural changes to China's command economy -- the same demands China has kept rejecting over the past months -- when he meets with president Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan next week.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow revealed Trump's main talking points in a remarkable admission that left observers aghast Trump would torpedo chances of any progress being made even before the new round of talks have begun.
"Our position will continue to be (that) we want structural changes," insisted Kudlow.
"We want structural changes on all the items ... theft of IP, forced transfers of technology, cyber hacking. Of course trade barriers. We've got to have something that's enforceable," he told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
Kudlow's statements again raise questions about the necessity for the Trump-Xi meeting considering Trump's inflexible position. Kudlow's comments were later verified by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who leads the U.S. negotiating team.
Lighthizer on Tuesday said talks alone aren't enough.
"I don't know if it will get them to stop cheating, tariffs alone," said Lighthizer. "I think you don't have any other option. I know one thing that won't work and that is talking to them. Because we've done that for 20 years."
China wants the United States to lift its tariffs. Talks to reach a deal broke down in May after Trump accused China of allegedly reneging on previously agreed to commitments. Talks have since broken down.
On Tuesday morning, however, Trump tweeted about a "very good telephone conversation" he said he'd had with Xi.
China confirmed Trump's phone call with Xi, and said Trump had requested he be allowed to call Xi. The Chinese leader said told Trump he stands ready to meet with him in Osaka to exchange views on fundamental issues about the development of China-U.S. relations. Xi told Trump their countries will benefit from cooperation and lose from confrontation.
He also said China and the U.S. must advnce the China-U.S. relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit.
Xi emphasized both countries should solve their problems through dialogue on an equal footing. He said the key to success is being to accommodate each other's legitimate concerns. He also hopes Trump can treat Chinese firms in a fair manner.
Xi wants to have both countries' trade teams maintain contact on how to solve Trump's trade war.
Trump two weeks ago threatened China with additional import tariffs of 25 percent if Xi doesn't attend the G20 summit.