Speaking in the Russian city of St. Petersburg at an economic forum, Xi said there were strong trade and investment connections between China and the United States.
“It’s hard to imagine a complete break of the United States from China or of China from the United States. We are not interested in this, and our American partners are not interested in this. President Trump is my friend and I am convinced he is also not interested in this,” Xi said in Chinese, interpreted into Russian and then translated into English by Reuters.
This is the first time Xi has publicly called Trump his friend.
Meanwhile, the U.S. president has often referred to his friendship with the Chinese leader, even after relations between the two countries soured when the latest round of trade talks broke down in early May.
“My respect and friendship with President Xi is unlimited but, I have told him many times before, this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn’t make any sense,” Trump wrote in a tweet on May 14, four days after U.S. tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods increased to 25 percent from 10 percent.
When the time is right we will make a deal with China. My respect and friendship with President Xi is unlimited but, as I have told him many times before, this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn’t make any sense. We have to be allowed to make up some…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2019
Trump announced the tariff hike in response to the Chinese regime backtracking on commitments negotiated over months of trade talks. The regime then imposed a retaliatory tariff hike on $60 billion of U.S. goods.
Shortly after, the U.S. administration placed Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a trade blacklist that effectively banned it from doing business with American firms. In apparent retaliation to this move, the regime said it would set up an “unreliable entity list” of foreign businesses, persons, and organizations that harm Chinese firms’ interests.
Trump is due to meet with Xi at the G20 summit in Japan later this month.
The president earlier said he would make a final decision on whether to impose new tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods after this meeting.
Reuters contributed to this report.