While Mnuchin said the president reserves the right to escalate tariffs should negotiations not pan out as planned, he cast the weekend's talks as a breakthrough in the administration's efforts to check China and said the discussion included everything from purchasing more United States goods to intellectual property, to currency manipulation. "I am a Tariff Man", Trump wrote on Twitter.
Those remarks were echoed by President Trump himself, . who noted his good personal relationship with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in a tweet on Monday.
The comments by the president and his top advisers over the past 48 hours have only added to China's confusion about their negotiating partners.
Unless extended, negotiations will now continue for three months from the date of Trump and Xi's dinner at the G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday.
"Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged investors" doubts over the talks' outcome.
Trump has argued that China for decades has abused global trade rules to lure away USA jobs, steal United States intellectual property, subsidise its own companies, and strong-arm U.S. firms.
After the meeting, Washington agreed to hold off on Trump's threat to raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent beginning January 1, leaving them at the current 10 percent rate.
While Trump hailed the agreement with Xi "an incredible deal", a lack of detail from the Chinese side has left investors and analysts wondering if Trump's exuberance is warranted.
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But here's what is particularly concerning: numerous issues around which negotiations will now revolve-above all the theft-by-hacking of intellectual property-are issues where China denies being at fault, and where a meaningful resolution would involve China proving that it has changed its practices.
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Trump, speaking to reporters on Air Force One after the plane departed Argentina, said his agreement with Xi, will go down "as one of the largest deals ever made".
US Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican, in February 2017 introduced a bill that would have allowed the US government to punish Chinese intellectual property theft by imposing duties on the country's imports.
Trump said he and Xi "are the only two people that can bring about massive and very positive change, on trade and far beyond, between our two great Nations".
His appointment of Lighthizer to lead the talks instead of Mnuchin puts one of the administration's toughest China critics in charge.
China responded to earlier USA tariffs with retaliatory levies of its own, targeting $110 billion worth of U.S. products, including soybeans and other agricultural products. "MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN", he continued.
He "seems to be convinced that tariffs are actually a tax paid by other countries, not by the American consumer as is in fact the case", said Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China.
In a subsequent tweet, Trump said he would "happily sign" a "fair deal" that addresses U.S. concerns, should one be reached with Beijing.
"He's constantly invoking the stock exchange as a referendum on his presidency", Guajardo said. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs.