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China needs to open up its markets to US companies, says former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke

China needs to open up more of its markets to U.S. companies, former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told CNBC on Wednesday.

"There needs to be a more level playing field and there needs to be more access of American firms into China, the same way Chinese firms are able to sell and operate here in America," Locke, a former U.S. ambassador to China, said on "Squawk Box."

The comment by Locke, who was Commerce secretary during the Obama administration, came a day before the start of a two-day summit between President Donald Trumpand Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida.


The president, who previously declared China the "grand champion" of currency manipulation, said Tuesday he wanted U.S. companies to halt investment in China and instead create jobs at home.

Some in U.S. industry have called out China, the world's second-largest economy, for unfair government subsidies on companies and restricting investment.

In a tweet Thursday, Trump said he expected a "difficult" meeting with Xi.