Trump China Business Leadrs Meeting 11.9
Trump: Can't blame China for taking advantage
01:05 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

The two leaders spent the day in meetings

They did not take questions from reporters

Beijing CNN  — 

President Donald Trump lavished praise on China for the very trade practices he once lambasted as unfair during a remarkable morning session in Beijing.

Emerging after two hours of talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said he doesn’t fault China for taking advantage of differences between the way the two countries do business.

“I don’t blame China,” Trump said during remarks to business leaders inside the Great Hall of the People. “After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for benefit of their citizens? I give China great credit.”

Instead of pointing the finger at Beijing for exacerbating trade disputes, Trump blamed past US administrations “for allowing this trade deficit to take place and to grow.”

It was a notable shift in tone from a President who was elected to office partly for his tough talk on holding other countries accountable for practices that disadvantage US workers. Even as he made the remarks, Trump sought to bolster his image as a hard-nosed negotiator, announcing $250 billion in agreements between US companies and China.

These are the companies behind Trump’s $250 billion China deals

Precise details of the agreements weren’t immediately available, however, and many are said to have been in the works long before Trump was elected. The figures aren’t expected to make a dent in the US trade deficit with China.

Intense diplomacy

The President’s praise of China for its trading practices came amid a morning of intense diplomacy on the second day of his visit to Beijing. He and Xi huddled for hours inside the Great Hall, situated on the western edge of Tiananmen Square.

In statements to reporters after their talks, Trump and Xi offered placatory views of US-China ties, and insisted that differences between the two countries would be cast aside in place of a cooperative partnership.

“We want a vibrant trade relationship with China,” Trump said. “We also want a fair and reciprocal one. Today, I discussed with President Xi the chronic imbalance in our relationship as it pertains to trade and the concrete steps it will take to solve the problem of massive trade distortion.”