Tue, 09/15/2020 – 12:30
During the calls, President Trump reportedly offered to help President Xi “100%” with whatever aid China required. But President Xi side-stepped the request, saying he was “personally overseeing” China’s response (in fact, Xi appointed his No. 2 man, Premier Li Keqiang, to oversee the situation in January), and asked Trump to simply support a WHO mission to China, which the US did, before later cutting funding to the arm of the UN.
The information backs up Trump’s claims, made in tweets and press conferences, that the US offered unequivocal assistance to China, which had been rebuffed despite the obvious need in Wuhan, a city whose citizens endured more than 70 days of lockdown.
Xi thanked Trump but sidestepped the request. He said he was “personally overseeing” the country’s efforts to combat of the virus and suggested the US take part in a mission by the World Health Organisation to China.
Trump said help from the US would arrive if Xi asked for it.
During the following weeks, the relationship between the two leaders deteriorated rapidly, as China dispatched its “wolf warrior” diplomats to help spread underhanded lies about the virus originating in the US.
In the weeks after that call, Beijing and Washington went on to exchange barbs on the origin and handling of the virus. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry who is known for his combative Wolf Warrior style of diplomacy, hinted that the virus had been brought to China by the US military.
In the second presidential phone conversation on March 27, Trump said Zhao’s comment was “ridiculous” while Xi said US officials should refrain from using racist anti-China comments borrowed from Trump.
According to Rage, Xi advised Trump that lockdowns, quarantine and social distancing were effective in containing the virus, and early testing, early quarantine and early treatment were helpful.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua took a less confrontational position than reported by Woodward about the first Xi-Trump phone conversation. It said China hoped the US would calmly assess the pandemic.
The calls took place on Feb. 6 and March 27. By the second call, the biltaral relationship had already deteriorated, and Trump reportedly confronted President Xi over “Made in China 2025” and other trade related issues. He later told Woodward he was “breaking China’s a**” on trade.
Trump had previously confronted Xi about Made in China 2025, a strategy for Beijing to foster home-grown prowess in crucial industrial and hi-tech sectors, Woodward wrote in Rage.
“That’s very insulting to me,” Trump told Xi, according to the book. Trump also said to Woodward that he was “breaking China’s ass on trade”.
Xi also attacked Trump over his travel ban, claiming it “spread panic”.
Xi told the US president China was being open and transparent and that its actions were safeguarding not just China but also the world.
“I ask the United States and your officials not to take excessive actions that would create further panic,” Xi said, criticising US travel restrictions despite the WHO’s suggestion against overreaction.
China ultimately allowed American researchers to join a WHO team that traveled to Wuhan, relenting after initial resistence. China also tightly controlled the WHO team’s visit, though it did allow researchers to “talk” with local Chinese scientists and doctors who fought the virus in Wuhan.
The virus has strained the bilateral relationship between the world’s two largest economies, who have engaged in tit-for-tat diplomatic closures, sanctions on industry and individuals including high-level party officials, along with travel bans and restrictions on international students studying in the US.
In other news, Xi made headlines Tuesday morning by criticizing the European Union, which has sought to deepen its relationship with China as Washington pulls away, claiming that the EU needs to get its refugee crisis under control.
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Author: Tyler Durden