US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was "looking forward" to crunch negotiations with China as he emerged in Beijing on Tuesday with global attention focused on whether the two sides can reach a trade deal.

Mnuchin appeared at a Beijing hotel a couple of days ahead of scheduled high-level meetings with Chinese officials in the capital, with a March 1 deadline looming to strike an accord.

"It's great to be here back in Beijing. We're looking forward to several important days of talks," Mnuchin said to reporters.

He then moved on without taking questions.

Mnuchin will be joined by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer as well as David Malpass, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the World Bank, in negotiations set for Thursday and Friday.

China's delegation will be led by Vice Premier Liu He, who will be joined by central bank governor Yi Gang.

Lower level officials had arrived earlier for what the White House has called preparatory meetings due to start on Monday.

In December, Washington suspended for three months its plan to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports -- to 25 percent from the current 10 percent -- to allow time for negotiators to work out a trade spat that has triggered fears of a global economic slowdown.