The president posed a question to his more than 60 million followers on Friday, comparing Xi to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
....My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
The tweet came shortly after China announced that it will impose 5%-10% tariffs on $75 billion worth of US goods and reinstate duties on American autos, and hours before Trump announced that the White House will raise existing duties on $250 billion in Chinese products from 25% to 30% starting 1 October, and from 10% to 15% on another $300 billion in Chinese goods starting September 1.
Trump’s initial comment also included a critique of the American central bank chairman, whom Trump himself appointed, but it also suggests that the president’s personal relationship with Xi is at a low point.
Earlier in December, Trump wrote that “President Xi and I have a very strong and personal relationship,” and even during his August rally in Ohio, Trump said that “President Xi is a good man, he’s a friend of mine.”
The US President has also often noted that he does not blame China for what he sees an unfair trade relationship between the two countries.
“And again, I don’t blame President Xi. I blame our past leaders for allowing it to happen,” Trump told reporters in July.
At an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June, Xi also referred to Trump as his “friend” and said it was “hard to imagine a complete break of the United States from China or of China from the United States,” according to Reuters.
However, at a White House event last month, Trump played down his past comments about Xi being a good friend.
“We’re probably not quite as close now,” Trump said, according to Politico. “But I have to be for our country. He’s for China and I’m for USA, and that’s the way it’s got to be.”