Beijing says ‘this rumor is not true’ but makes conciliatory signals in bid to stop tit-for-tat dispute escalating into full-scale trade war

China has rejected Trump administration claims that it had offered to cut its trade surplus with the US by $200bn, China’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

Various US news outlets, citing anonymous sources, had reported that Chinese trade officials, meeting with US counterparts in Washington this week, had acceded to Trump demands to cut its $375bn annual trade surplus, in part by increasing purchases of American goods.

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