Trump's lavish praise of Xi in recent times is in sharp contrast to his bitter criticism of Chinese policies during his presidential campaign. From the change in stance it does appear as if a bromance is brewing between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, with little reciprocation from the latter though.
Trump's softened tone on China's policies — ranging from currency manipulation to North Korea's nuclear programme and to the South China Sea territorial dispute — marks a noticeable shift from his earlier position.
"He is a very good man and I got to know him very well. He loves China and he loves the people of China. I know he would like to be able to do something, perhaps it's possible that he can't," the American leader said in a wide-ranging interview to Reuters from the Oval Office.
The duo went on a geopolitical blind date of sorts in early April when they met at Trump's Florida resort and broke the ice on crucial matters that have global ramifications. Trump's combative campaign talk was quickly replaced by a reconciliatory pitch following their first face-to-face encounter.
"Look, my problem is I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi. I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation," Trump said of Xi in the Reuters interview while referring to the tense Korean peninsula situation.
When asked about the proposed phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Trump brushed aside the proposal making it clear who will be given priority. "I wouldn't want to be causing difficulty right now for him [Xi]. I think he's doing an amazing job as a leader and I wouldn't want to do anything that comes in the way of that. So I would certainly want to speak to him first," the US president said.
Beijing had been angered with Trump taking a congratulatory call from Tsai following his election victory. China considers Taiwan its own territory and frowns at any independent contact Taipei makes with world leaders. However, the US president later bowed to Beijing's demands that his administration honour the "one China" policy ahead of his bilateral summit with Xi.
On the other hand, Xi has appeared more cautious, but cordial, while dealing with the US. "We held in-depth exchanges on China-US relations in a new era as well as major international and regional issues, and reached important consensus," Xi said after their talks in Florida.
"Mr President and I have deepened our mutual understanding and established a good working relationship. Next, both sides should utilise the four high-level dialogue mechanisms, namely diplomatic and security, comprehensive economic, law enforcement and cyber security, as well as social and people-to-people dialogues," he added.