Trump Says ‘Great’ Bond With China’s Xi Changed After COVID-19

August 11, 2020 Updated: August 24, 2020

WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said his relationship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping has frayed in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic and that he has not spoken to the Chinese leader in a long time.

“I used to have a very good relationship with him,” Trump told Fox Sports Radio in an interview, citing their Phase 1 trade deal last year. “I had a great relationship with President Xi. I like him, but I don’t feel the same way now.”

Trump said his feelings changed amid COVID-19.

“I certainly feel differently. I had a very, very good relationship, and I haven’t spoken to him for a long time.”

Trump, who is seeking reelection in the Nov. 3 U.S. election, made challenging China a key part of his 2016 presidential campaign and touted his friendly ties with Xi during much of his first term in office as he sought to make good on his trade deal promises.

But he said on Tuesday that the fallout from the outbreak was worse than the conflict over trade. “This is a thousand times the trade deal what happened with all of the death and … the world had to shut down. It’s a disgrace,” he told Fox.

First reports of the virus emerged from China in late 2019 and it has now infected millions around the world.

By Susan Heavey