China’s Vice Premier Liu He and Republican Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and David Perdue, R-Ga., met in Beijing on Tuesday.
The senators plan to have several meetings with Chinese officials to discuss security concerns as well as the status of U.S.-China trade talks.
“The purpose of this trip is to bring Montana ag to the forefront of the ongoing trade discussions between the United States and China," Daines said in a statement late last month. "I want to make sure the voice of Montana ag is heard loud and clear in the U.S. and around the world.”
Daines added that with the agriculture industry being the No. 1 economic driver for Montana and China being the world’s second-largest beef consumer, it is “critical” that the state’s farmers and ranchers are represented during the negotiations with the Asian nation.
The visit is a follow up to a similar trip in 2018 and comes amid increasingly hardened positions on trade from both sides, as negotiations seem poised to drag out into the third year.
The White House was in the loop on these meetings, according to sources.
In 2017, Daines signed a $200 million deal to export Montana beef to China, though the agreement has stalled amid the ongoing trade dispute. He stressed the importance of agriculture for Montana in his remarks saying, “With agriculture being Montana’s number one economic driver, and with China being the second-largest beef consumer in the world after the U.S., it is critical that the voice of Montana’s farmers and ranchers have a big seat at the table during these negotiations.”
Meanwhile, as the U.S.-China trade war continues to rage, President Trump maintains that the U.S. has the upper hand.
"We are doing very well in our negotiations with China,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “While I am sure they would love to be dealing with a new administration so they could continue their practice of “ripoff USA” ($600 B/year), 16 months PLUS is a long time to be hemorrhaging jobs and companies on a long-shot.”
Trump added that if he won a second term and China did not come to the table, talks would get harsher.
“And then, think what happens to China when I win,” he wrote in a tweet. “Deal would get MUCH TOUGHER! In the meantime, China’s Supply Chain will crumble and businesses, jobs and money will be gone!”
The 13th round of U.S.-China trade talks are expected to take place in Washington, D.C. this month, but a date has not yet been set. China’s Ministry of Commerce says scheduling issues arose due to the upcoming Fourth Plenum coupled with festivities to mark the 70th anniversary of the country.
However, Bloomberg cites the latest round of tariffs on more than $100 billion in Chinese goods as the reason for the setback.
FOX Business' Hillary Vaughn and Blake Burman contributed to this report.