Donald Trump Jr. criticized anyone praising China's response to the coronavirus should be "scored for being the authoritarian/community propagandist they are." However, Trump Jr.'s father, President Donald Trump, has praised China's President Xi Jinping's response. In fact, the president spoke with Xi on Friday and praised China's "strong understanding" of the virus.
"Anyone praising China's 'leadership' in responding that the virus should be scorned for being the authoritarian/communist propagandist that they are," Trump Jr. tweeted Thursday. He included a link to a Business Insider story reporting that Spanish researchers believe rapid tests they received from China work only 30 percent of the time. The tests were bought from Bioeasy, but the Chinese embassy in Spain said that company's tests were not donated by the Chinese government and Bioeasy did not have a license to sell the product.
Hours after his son's tweet, President Trump praised Xi after having a "very good conversation with him." "Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet," the president added. "China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!"
Back in January, February and even into early March, the president did tweet praise of Xi's response to the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, notes The Washington Post. As the virus began to spread in the U.S. though, he took a harder line on China, even calling it the "Chinese virus" briefly. But even then, he still refused to pin blame on Xi himself.
These two tweets were posted just a few hours apart. pic.twitter.com/iSSYK6snOT— Mike Masnick (@mmasnick) March 27, 2020
The president did suggest during the March 18 press briefing that the media was "siding with many others," including China.
"They're siding with many others, China's the least of it," he said at the time. "So why — why they're doing this, you'll have to ask them. But if we had an honest media in this country, our country would be an even greater place."
More recently though, the tone has changed. In the March 21 briefing, the U.S. president accused China of being "secretive," but called Xi a "great leader."
"He's a friend of mine. But I wish they were able to — I wish they would have told us earlier... that they were having a problem," the president said. "Because they were having a big problem and they knew it, and I wish they could have given us an advanced warning. Because we could have done — we could have had a lot of things — as an example, some of the things that we're talking about, where we order them as quickly as we can. If we had a two- or three-month difference in time, it would have been much better."
During Thursday's press briefing, President Trump said it was "somebody at a lower level" of the Chinese government who claimed the virus began in the U.S.
"They made a statement that our soldiers brought it into China. No, it came from China," President Trump said. "And, you know, we just signed a very big deal with China. They're paying us a lot of money in tariffs and other things. They never paid us 10 cents."
The president also declined an opportunity to accuse China of manipulating the number of coronavirus cases, as other Republicans have. The number of new cases in China have begun to slow, with 82,000 reported as of Saturday night. The U.S. has passed that number with more than 124,000 cases, reports Johns Hopkins University.
"You don't know what the numbers are in China," President Trump said Thursday. "China tells you numbers, and — I'm speaking to President Xi tonight, I believe, and we'll have a good conversation, I'm sure. But you just don't know, you know, what are the numbers. But I think it's a tribute to the testing. We're testing tremendous numbers of people and every day — the way the system works."
Following Thursday's call, Xi said the two sides "will benefit if we cooperate, both will lose if we fight each other," according to the Xinhua news agency.
"Cooperation is the only correct choice. I hope the U.S. side could take real actions. The two sides should work together to enhance cooperation fighting the virus and develop non-confrontational" relations, he added.
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