Trump praises Xi, while raising prospect of higher tariffs on Chinese imports

“Look, I want China to do great, I do. And I like President Xi a lot, he was a very good friend of mine during my term,” Trump told Bartiromo.

Bartiromo cut Trump off. “Well, look, Covid, Covid cover up, intellectual property theft, the list is long from our number one adversary. So I don’t know if he is a friend.”

“I got along with him great, I’m not sure he loved what I was doing,” Trump added, before saying he doesn’t think Xi wants him to return to the White House.

Trump’s praise of Xi is longstanding and is part of a pattern of Trump flattering dictators and strong arm leaders during political events and interviews. Last year Trump called the Chinese leader “smart, brilliant, everything perfect,” who rules with “an iron fist.” Trump often talks about his relationships with foreign leaders like Xi or Russian president Vladimir Putin as a way of criticizing President Joe Biden.

“They respected our country three years ago. Today they think our country’s a joke,” Trump said during the interview.

But Trump’s rosy rhetoric towards adversarial leaders, which is widely criticized, does not often reflect his policies. As much as Trump talks about his relationship with Xi, he has vowed to take an even tougher stance on China in a second term and has accused Biden of being “weak” on China. The former president started a trade war with China in 2018 when he imposed 25 percent tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports, prompting China to respond by setting tariffs on U.S. goods. Biden has left the nearly $300 billion of Trump-era tariffs on Chinese goods in place.

campaign platform
states he would revoke China’s “most favored nation” trade status and introduce legislation calling for reciprocal trade, “an eye for an eye, a tariff for a tariff, same exact amount.”

In his interview with Bartiromo, Trump would not say whether or not he would defend Taiwan if China attacked the island, chalking up his ambiguous answer to wanting to have negotiating power over China.

“I won’t tell you now because that would really jeopardize my negotiating ability with China. So I don’t talk about those things. It’s very hard to say. I would or I wouldn’t — they know what I do, and they know where I stand. And we won’t have a problem,” Trump said.

During the interview, the former president also said that he believes, without any evidence, that the Chinese Communist Party is behind the
surge in Chinese migrants
and illegal immigration at the Southern border and that he believes China will interfere in the U.S. elections. The Chinese leader personally told Biden,
according to CNN
, he would not interfere in the 2024 election when they met in November, although the U.S. intelligence community has reported that China
increased its efforts
to meddle with American politics during the 2022 midterms.

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