Trump praises China’s ‘highly respected’ Xi

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US President Donald Trump praised Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a “highly respected and powerful representative of his people” on Friday as he wrapped up his first state visit to Beijing.

Trump showered his host with accolades during two days of meetings during which the US leader sought to convince Xi to do more to reduce a trade deficit with China and rein in nuclear-armed North Korea.

“My meetings with President Xi Jinping were very productive on both trade and the subject of North Korea,” the US leader wrote on Twitter before flying to Vietnam for an Asia-Pacific summit.

“He is a highly respected and powerful representative of his people. It was great being with him and Madame Peng Liyuan!” he said, referring to Xi’s wife.

Trump has repeatedly congratulated Xi for his reappointment as head of the Communist Party at a congress last month where he consolidated power – raising eyebrows over the admiration of a non-democratic process.

US and Chinese firms signed more than $250 billion in business deals during Trump‘s visit, though analysts say many were nonbinding agreements that could take years to show any results and would do little to reduce the US-China trade imbalance.

Trump, who has softened his past criticism of China, again lambasted past US administrations for allowing the $350 billion trade deficit to balloon over the years.

“I don’t blame China, I blame the incompetence of past Admins for allowing China to take advantage of the US on trade leading up to a point where the US is losing $100’s of billions,” he wrote as he again circumvented China‘s Twitter ban.

“How can you blame China for taking advantage of people that had no clue? I would’ve done same!”

China was the showpiece of Trump‘s five-nation tour of Asia, which ends on Monday.

During their talks on Thursday, Trump thanked Xi for his backing of United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang and China‘s own restrictions on banking for North Koreans.

While Xi said China was committed to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, he did not announce any new steps to squeeze the reclusive regime.