As the countdown to high level talks between the U.S. and China inch closer -there were conflicting signals.
Chinese officials told Reuters Wednesday, expectations for any progress were lowered after moves taken this week by Washington.
Beijing is reportedly open to a partial trade agreement with the United States, according to Bloomberg, with some Chinese officials concerned the two sides can't secure a broad agreement.
In another signal, China is now prepared to boost annual purchases of U.S. agricultural products like soybeans by more than $3 billion, according to the Financial Times.
This would be on top of additional soybean and pork purchases made last month.
Worried investors in the U.S. and Europe took those as reasons to be optimistic, breaking a three-day losing streak on Wall Street.
But there is still cause for concern.
In retaliation to U.S. visa restrictions announced by the State Department, China is planning to tighten visas for U.S. nationals with ties to anti-China groups, according to sources.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman tried to downplay the report.
(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN, GENG SHUANG, SAYING: "China has always maintained a positive attitude towards U.S.-China people-to-people relations, we've always welcomed people from the U.S. to come visit China, to enter here and exchange.
In contrast, for some time, America has gone towards some academics, students, and people from industry and tech workers to reject their visa applications, delay or revoke their long-term U.S. visas, interrogate and harass them." And then there is that expanded U.S. trade ban of 28 Chinese companies.
The U.S. blacklisted artificial intelligence start-ups from buying U.S. components, accusing them of helping China commit human rights abuses against minority muslims. Businesses caught between the two warring factions are trying to figure things out.
Goldman Sachs said it was reviewing its role in a planned initial public offering for Chinese tech start-up Megvii Technology.
That company was one of those blacklisted.
Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase are also working on the IPO but declined to comment.
A high-level delegation of Chinese and U.S. officials are scheduled to start negotiations on Thursday.