BEIJING: Since he was elected in 2016, US President Donald Trump has by turns expressed contempt and admiration, disappointment and kinship toward his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Ahead of his first state visit to China Wednesday, Trump tweeted that he looked forward to meeting with Xi, whom he described as “just off his great political victory” from a Communist Party congress that anointed Xi China’s most powerful leader in decades.
But Trump has not always been so positive in his assessment of Xi and China. Here are a selection of Trump’s sundry Sino-statements:
Don’t dictate me
December 11: “I don’t want China dictating to me,” the then-president-elect told Fox News after he took a protocol-breaking phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen. “I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”
Solve North Korea
April 3: “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” Trump said in an interview with the Financial Times, pointing out China’s unique position as the North’s most powerful ally and largest trade partner.
April 7: “I think we have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China,” he said following a summit with Xi at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago.
April 12: “We had a very good bonding. I think we had a very good chemistry together. I think he wants to help us with North Korea,” Trump said a week after the Florida meeting.
May 12: “China just agreed that the US will be allowed to sell beef, and other major products, into China once again,” Trump tweeted. “This is REAL news!”
June 21: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” the US leader tweeted a day after the death of Otto Warmbier, a US student who returned from North Korean prison in a coma.
July 30: “I am very disappointed in China,” Trump tweeted. “Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk…China could easily solve this problem!”
August 14: Trump launched a probe into China’s alleged “theft of American intellectual property.”
September 4: Following a North Korean nuclear test, Trump said he was considering “stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.” China accounts for 90 percent of North Korea’s trade.
‘King of China’
October 25: Trump tweeted that he congratulated Xi over the phone on “his extraordinary elevation” after the Chinese leader secured a second five-year term. In an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump also said: “He’s a powerful man. I happen to think he’s a very good person. People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he’s called president also. Now some people might call him the king of China. But he’s called president.”