The U.S. administration has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports, or about half of the goods it imports from China each year, while China has retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. imports.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday dangled the possibility of a "breakthrough" at the dinner. Lighthizer said his examination is "at the President's direction". "And the stakes are very high".
That's the opposite of what Trump wants to achieve.
Markets are hoping a deal can be reached before the end of the year, when US duty rates are due to increase significantly.
Although Trump said this month that the G20 represented the ideal opportunity to "make a deal with China", should a deal not be reached, the situation could escalate quickly, devastating stock-market returns for the next year. "I'm open to making a deal, but frankly, I like the deal we have now", he said. "And everybody hopefully will be very happy, including China".
Additional tariffs on Chinese-made vehicle and parts would have a limited impact, said Kristin Dziczek, an economist at the Center for Automotive Research. All of the worrying predictions of negative effects, he claimed, "have turned out to be false... we're taking in billions of dollars". Some estimates have suggested a 10 per cent tariff on iPhones imported into the USA would amount to about US$40 a phone, based on the import-assessed cost of the device.
That fits in with comments Trump made in a separate interview with the Washington Post.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, he said that while China was interested in striking a deal, "I don't know if I want to do it" and "I like the deal we have now".
"At the president's direction, I will examine all available tools to equalize tariffs applied to automobiles", he said.More news: Melania Trump defends blood-red Christmas trees in White House
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A clear case in point on this is Washington's increasingly open criticism of Xi's signature foreign policy strategy - the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Pence insisted that "when it comes to Beijing's malign influence and interference in American politics and policy, we will continue to expose it, no matter the form it takes".
With Trump declaring that the European Union is "almost as bad as China", and that he'd impose tariffs on European cars "in about 12 minutes" if the EU doesn't agree a "fair" deal with the U.S., the prospect of the trade wars flaring on other fronts and further damaging global growth is real.
But while that was relatively straightforward to implement - the handful of Japanese automakers divvied up their own market shares, and instead increased profits by producing higher-quality cars - Chinese trade is spread amongst hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized exporters.
Attention is expected to focus on issues including a trade war between the U.S. and China, a new North American trade deal and the conflict in Ukraine. For one thing, China is not keen to upend its entire government-centered development strategy simply to please Trump.
The EU and USA suspended potential auto tariffs in a truce announced over the summer, but that deal may not hold much longer, some observers predict.
"The China-U.S. summit is just around the corner", Geng said.
"We have had a good stretch of solid growth by historical standards, but now we are facing a period where significant risks are materialising and darker clouds are looming", she said.
Following Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian ships, Trump threatened to cancel planned talks in Buenos Aires with President Vladimir Putin.