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‘Much Respect!’: Trump Praises China’s ‘Understanding’ of Coronavirus, Pledges to Coordinate U.S. Response With Xi

President Donald Trump meets with China’s President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

President Trump tweeted early Friday morning that he had “a very good” phone call about coronavirus with Chinese President Xi Jinping, signaling a more conciliatory tone between the two countries despite heightened tensions arising from competing accusations of culpability for the onset of the virus.

“China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!” the president said.

The Trump administration has been outspoken about China being the epicenter of coronavirus after the outbreak originated in Wuhan, and reportedly pushed the U.N. Security Council to call attention to the Chinese origins of the virus in a joint declaration that stalled this week.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser Robert O’Brien have also criticized Beijing for its role in suppressing information about the coronavirus early on, and Trump himself has defended labeling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” which critics have claimed is racist and xenophobic.

But the president has recently backed away from the term, saying in a press conference Thursday that while the virus did come from China, “I don’t have to say it, if they feel so strongly about it.”

Chinese state media, which has pushed a propaganda campaign claiming the virus originated in the U.S., said that Xi told Trump that the virus was an international threat that disregarded national borders and races, and called for global cooperation to beat the virus.

China announced Thursday that it was shutting down its borders to all foreigners to slow any reemergence of coronavirus, and sent mostly faulty coronavirus test kits to Spain and the Czech Republic, according to European media reports.

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