Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, center, flanked by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, gestures to the media before a ministerial-level trade meeting in Washington, Oct. 10, 2019.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, center, flanked by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, gestures to the media before a ministerial-level trade meeting in Washington, Oct. 10, 2019.

President Donald Trump meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House Friday, amid anticipation of at least a partial trade deal between both countries.

"We had a very very good negotiation with China," Trump said after a day of talks between Liu and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer Thursday.

These were the first senior-level trade talks between the United States and China since July.

In the three months since, China and the United States continued their tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars of goods that help make up the backbones of both economies. The United States has also imposed visa restriction and other penalties against China over its alleged harsh treatment of Muslim minorities.

Trump said U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports have helped slow down the Chinese economy and said Beijing is eager to make a deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with China's Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 4, 2019.

Liu declined to make any comment to reporters Thursday. But the official Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying, "The Chinese side came with great sincerity, willing to cooperate with the U.S. on the trade balance, market access and investor protection."

The United States has long accused China of such violations as intellectual property theft, demanding U.S. companies that plan to do business there turn over trade secrets, and currency manipulation that makes Chinese goods cheaper on world markets than U.S. products.

China has said U.S. protectionist trade policies are aimed at stifling its economic growth.

While no one is expecting Trump and Liu to announce a comprehensive trade deal that addresses everyone's concerns, spokesman Doug Barry of the U.S.-China Business Council tells VOA that even a small deal on intellectual property and farm purchases is a lot more than what most trade skeptics have been expecting.

"What was surprising is that the two sides have at least, for the moment anyway, put aside some of the more difficult issues and seem to be focusing on a short-term win. And if they're successful, one would hope then that some confidence will be restored on both sides and there will be an opportunity to deal with some of the more vexatious issues in the future," he said.

The issues Barry calls vexatious include China's human rights record, U.S. support for the Hong Kong protesters, and the newest controversy — remarks by a U.S. basketball team executive that also supports the protesters.