Donald Trump says the US will ‘work closely’ with China over coronavirus and praises ‘very good’ call with President Xi despite ‘Chinese virus’ clashes with Beijing in recent weeks
- Donald Trump and Xi Jinping spoke about coronaviurs during Thursday night call
- Trump tweeted afterwards praising ‘very good’ conversation and said the US and China are ‘working very closely’ over the pandemic
- That is despite him branding disease the ‘Chinese virus’, causing anger in Beijing
- Comes after the US overtook China to record the highest number of infections
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Donald Trump has praised a ‘very good’ call with Xi Jinping and said the US and China are ‘working closely’ in their fight against coronavirus.
The leaders spoke over the phone Thursday night Washington time in their first direct conversation since the pandemic began in Wuhan late last year.
Trump touted his ‘respect’ for China’s efforts to tackle the disease, despite goading Beijing over what he has described as the ‘Chinese virus’ in recent weeks.
Meanwhile Xi said he ‘wishes to continue sharing all information and experience with the US’ and called on the two countries to ‘unite to fight’ the disease.
The call came shortly after the US leap-frogged China to report the largest number of coronavirus cases anywhere in the world at 83,553.
Beijing has reported 81,340 cases, claiming zero domestic infections in recent days after draconian lockdown measures – of the kind being resisted by the US – were put in place.
Chinese state media said Xi told Trump he hoped the ‘US will take substantive actions to improve Sino-US relations.’
Trump sounded a positive tone, tweeting that he had a ‘very good conversation’ with Xi, and that both leaders discussed the pandemic ‘in great detail’.
‘China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the virus. We are working closely together. Much respect,’ he wrote.
Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo angered Beijing this month by repeatedly referring to ‘the Chinese virus’ when discussing the COVID-19 outbreak first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Trump has since dropped the term amid accusations of racism, in another small sign of easing tensions between the two world powers.
Earlier this month a foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing also suggested in a tweet that the US military brought the virus to Wuhan.
This prompted Trump to accuse China of spreading misinformation, and the US president repeatedly attacked China’s lack of transparency and the slowness of its initial response to the outbreak.
Xi said Sino-US relations were at a ‘critical juncture’, CCTV reported, adding that cooperation was mutually beneficial and ‘the only right choice.’
Friday’s call also took place as the US overtook China as the country with the most confirmed coronavirus cases – the pathogen has now infected more than 82,400 people in the world’s largest economy.
During the call, Xi said China had shared information about the epidemic with the World Health Organization and other countries including the US in a ‘timely’ manner throughout.
‘Infectious diseases are the common enemy of mankind, and do not recognise borders or races,’ said Xi.
Some provinces, cities and companies in China have provided medical supplies and support to the US as well, Xi added.
At an emergency videoconference chaired by Saudi Arabia Thursday – which both Xi and Trump joined – G20 nations pledged a ‘united front’ in the fight against the coronavirus.
The group said they would inject $5 trillion into the global economy to counter the pandemic amid forecasts of a deep recession.