President Donald Trump said Wednesday Beijing so far has not made sufficient concessions in trade talks, making him reluctant to conclude a bargain.
"I can tell you this. China would much rather make a trade deal than I would," he told reporters while touring a computer manufacturing facility that produces computers for Apple.
"I don't think they're stepping up to the level that I want."
Wall Street retreated further from record highs on Wednesday as pessimism mounted among investors about the chances for a deal to bring an end to the lingering trade dispute.
Trump on October 11 announced a "phase one" deal resolving important US grievances about Chinese trade and currency practices.
But more than a month later, the two sides appear no closer to finalizing the text of any agreement.
China has insisted on a rollback of existing tariffs, which Trump said he has not agreed to. American officials want large purchases of US farm exports, which may be unworkable for Beijing.
Trump said he is "looking at" exempting Apple from the China tariffs, but said it might be unfair to Samsung given the US free trade deal with South Korea.
"We have to treat Apple on a somewhat similar basis as we treat Samsung," Trump said.
Chinese officials also denounced legislation adopted by US lawmakers this week supporting protection of human rights in Hong Kong, which has been convulsed by protests this year against Beijing's attempts to exert greater control.