Trump: Xi ‘may not be a friend of mine anymore’ — trade war, day 84

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Since the first day that President Donald Trump met his Chinese counterpart in April 2017, he has boasted of an unlikely “friendship” between himself and Xi Jinping. Xi, of course, never publicly shared the sentiment.

Now that the trade war has heated up to encompass nearly half of all traded goods between the U.S. and China, and the Trump administration is reportedly rolling out a wide-ranging anti-China strategy that includes accusing China of election interference, Trump is apparently rethinking his warm feelings toward Xi.

More from the press conference and the implications of recent U.S.-China events:

  • Later in the conference, Trump repeated “maybe he’s not anymore” when asked about his friendship with Xi amid the new charges of interfering in American elections.
  • China has rejected the charge of election “interference,” though some Chinese analysts quoted in the New York Times (porous paywall) suggested that the China Daily’s ad buy in the Des Moines Register was a bad move because it “left the impression the country is trying to influence the elections.”
  • However, Trump’s ‘meddling’ claim plays into China’s trade narrative,” the Wall Street Journal reports, because by not providing proof along with the claim, Trump has “helped bolster the argument that his real aim [in the trade war] is to stop China’s ascent as a global power.”
  • And this claim, on top of the trade war, has “irreparably shattered” the assumptions underlying U.S.-China relations, noted China-watcher Bill Bishop writes.
  • At the conference, Trump also sarcastically suggested that he “will, tomorrow, make a call to [Xi]. Say, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ Okay? ‘You don’t mind paying billions of dollars a month in tariffs.’”
  • Trump appears to be under the impression that China pays for U.S. tariffs — but actually, American consumers do.

More trade war and U.S.-China news:


Previously in SupChina’s trade war coverage:

Trade war, day 83: Trump accuses China of election interference