Despite ramping up his complaints about Beijing and lobbing new threats of additional tariffs on Chinese imports, U.S. President Donald Trump wants to seal a trade deal with China, according to one expert.
Trump's Thursday Twitter post is evidence of that, Lanhee Chen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, told CNBC on Friday. In fact, he said, the tweet — about a "long and very good conversation" with China's president — is one of several "smoke signals" that show the White House truly hopes to resolve its ongoing dispute with the world's second-largest economy.
"I tend to think that the president actually wants to get to a deal on China at some point," Chen told CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Beyond the Twitter post, Chen pointed to the White House playing up Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires later this month. In fact, the U.S. leader highlighted that summit in his recent tweet, saying trade discussions "are moving along nicely" ahead of the planned face-to-face meetings.
Trump tweet: Just had a long and very good conversation with President Xi Jinping of China. We talked about many subjects, with a heavy emphasis on Trade. Those discussions are moving along nicely with meetings being scheduled at the G-20 in Argentina. Also had good discussion on North Korea!
"I tend to think that they are looking for something as a pathway to progress. They're looking to be able to say: 'Look, we have reached even a very small measure of agreement on something,' and use that as a catalyst to get some additional resolution on the U.S.-China trade issue," said Chen, who is also director of domestic policy studies in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University.
In fact, a few hours after Chen spoke with CNBC, a report said Trump had asked officials to begin drafting terms of a potential agreement.