Trump praises ‘strong, sharp and powerfully focused’ Xi

As we noted earlier this week, the “unforeseeable event” of the coronavirus may be cited by China as a reason to call off some of its commitments in the phase one trade deal, notwithstanding the additional tariffs on $75 million worth of goods that China is soon halving.

However, nothing can stop Donald Trump’s endless praise of the Chinese core leader. Today, he tweeted:

Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus. He feels they are doing very well, even building hospitals in a matter of only days. Nothing is easy, but he will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone. Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!

A White House readout of the Trump-Xi call also said the two leaders “noted the great achievement of the recent United States-China Phase One Trade Deal and reaffirmed their commitment to its implementation,” per Bloomberg.

At least at the moment, it does not feel like Trump will use China-bashing as a core element of his reelection campaign the way he did in 2016.

Beijing was also happy to promote a positive view of U.S.-China relations, with the call readout being the top story on Xinhua today (in English, in Chinese). According to the readout, Xi said that the trade deal “fully demonstrates that despite their differences, the two countries can always find solutions acceptable to both through dialogue and consultation as long as they uphold the spirit of equality and mutual respect.”

—Lucas Niewenhuis