He expects China to offer a guarantee that they will import a certain level of USA exports per year.
The White House rebuke appears to fly in the face of long-held Republican opposition to picking winners and losers in the marketplace.
The official offered no details on the points of dispute, but global trade tensions, fueled by President Donald Trump's launch of a trade war against China, are expected to dominate this year's gathering of the G20, an unwieldy club of the world's industrialized countries.
Trump has threatened to raise the existing 10% tariff on $250 Billion of imported Chinese goods to 25% in January if the countries fail to end the dispute with the threat of new tariffs on an additional $267 billion of goods not now subject to tariffs.
Trump has been demanding that Beijing resolve a series of long-standing USA trade grievances such as accusations China steals US intellectual property and forces technology transfers by USA companies doing business in China.
Markets are hoping a deal can be reached before the end of the year, when US duty rates are due to increase significantly.
In a tweet on Thursday, however, Trump said, "Billions of Dollars are pouring into the coffers of the United States of America because of the Tariffs being charged to China, and there is a long way to go".
It also, however, sees the trade confrontation as a U.S. attempt to repress China's economic and geopolitical ambitions and protect the dominance of the United States economy and, in particular, its leadership in technology. He told The Wall Street Journal it was "highly unlikely" he would refrain from lifting the levy rates to 25 percent.
"We have been ripped off badly by people coming in a stealing our wealth", he said.
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Echoing the president, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow stated in a press conference last week that trade negotiations would likely "come to a head" at the summit, which could bring positive results, but if this isn't the case, the conflict will intensify.
"I really don't know but I will tell you that I think China wants to make a deal".
"At the president's direction, I will examine all available tools to equalize tariffs applied to automobiles", he said.
If the objective is to restore the USA economy to what it "used to be", then it won't only be China that will be adversely affected. Steel tariffs led to increased prices on imports of the metal, and in turn inflated domestic steel prices, according to auto suppliers and executives who testified on Capitol Hill in September. They are, of course, ultimately a tax on USA consumers and shareholders. "The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get!"
When some economists or analysts talk about the potentially minimal impacts that tariffs might have on GDP, it is this higher government income that could offset a decline in consumption due to higher prices.
In its announcement, GM said it would effectively close five assembly and propulsion plants in the United States and Canada in 2019, a reorganization plan meant to make the company "highly agile, resilient and profitable".
It doesn't help that neither Trump nor his trade or economic advisers are prepared to acknowledge (if, indeed, they recognise it) that a trade conflict harms the United States along with those it targets, or that a country that issues the world's reserve currency is inevitably going to run structural current account deficits.
And, according to Trump, "the brunt of it is being paid by China".