Trump China visit: US leader strikes warmer tone with Xi Jinping

US President Donald Trump has lavished praise on Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a marked contrast to his previous criticism of China on the flashpoint issues of North Korea and trade.

But he also urged Mr Xi to “work very hard” on persuading North Korea to denuclearise.

On China’s trade surplus, Mr Trump surprised many when he said he did “not blame China” for “taking advantage”.

The US president was speaking in Beijing while on a state visit.

He is in the Chinese capital as part of his five-nation tour of Asia. The two leaders held talks earlier on Thursday after a grand welcome for Mr Trump.

They also announced the signing of $250bn (£190bn) worth of business deals during Mr Trump’s visit, although it is unclear how much of that figure is past deals being re-announced or simply the potential for future deals.

China ‘can fix this problem’

Discussion on how to deal with North Korea’s threats to the region has dominated Mr Trump’s agenda and China is Pyongyang’s main economic ally. Prior to his arrival in Beijing he urged China to sever ties with the North.

In speeches on Thursday Mr Trump said: China “can fix this problem easily and quickly”.

Beijing has consistently said it is doing all it can, but Mr Trump added: “I am calling on (Mr Xi) to work very hard. I know one thing about your president. If he works on it hard, it’ll get done”.

He then thanked Mr Xi several times for efforts such as restricting trade with Pyongyang.

Mr Xi, for his part, said both sides would “continue to work towards” fully implementing UN sanctions and “enduring peace” on the Korean peninsula.

‘You are a very special man’

Mr Trump also addressed the issue of the US-China trade deficit, which he called “a very unfair and one-sided one”, but put the blame on previous US administrations for this.

“I don’t blame China, after all, who can blame a country for taking advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens… I give China great credit,” said Mr Trump while addressing a room of business leaders.

Before taking office Mr Trump did not hold back from hostile anti-China rhetoric and he has consistently complained about the trade deficit with China, accusing it of being a currency manipulator stealing American jobs.

But on Thursday he repeatedly thanked and praised Mr Xi during his speeches, saying at one point: “You are a very special man.”

He had already enthusiastically thanked Mr Xi for his hospitality in tweets.

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