søndag 29. mars 2020

Trump strikes friendly tone on China with trade in mind, as his top officials point fingers over pandemic

As coronavirus cases in the US surge, President Donald Trump isn't focused just on those statistics, administration officials say, but is also watching another set of numbers: exports to China. The President gets regular briefings on agriculture sales to China and monitors those figures almost as closely as his White House pandemic team tracks statistics on the coronavirus, which had surpassed more than 121,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths in the US by Saturday.

Publicly, Trump is downplaying the importance of trade during the global pandemic. Describing a Thursday night phone call with President Xi Jinping about the coronavirus, the President said, "This whole invisible enemy has taken over the world. Nobody cares about trade."

But behind closed doors, White House officials say, Trump continues to emphasize farm product sales to China, even as he grapples with the most significant crisis of his presidency and a looming presidential campaign. His focus on the issue reflects his increasing concern about protecting America's economic health -- a central plank in his reelection campaign -- as well as public health.