Trump says pandemic altered bond with Xi

By AAP Newswire

US President Donald Trump says his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping has frayed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and they haven't spoken in a long time.

"I used to have a very good relationship with him," Trump told Fox Sports Radio on Tuesday, citing their Phase One trade deal last year.

"I had a great relationship with President Xi. I like him but I don't feel the same way now."

Trump said his feelings changed amid COVID-19.

"I certainly feel differently. I had a very, very good relationship and I haven't spoken to him in a long time."

Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, made challenging China a key part of his 2016 presidential campaign.

He touted his ties with Xi during much of his first term in office as he sought to make good on his trade deal promises.

But he said on Tuesday the fallout from the outbreak was worse than the conflict over trade.

"This is a thousand times the trade deal what happened with all of the death and ... the world had to shutdown. It's a disgrace," he told Fox.

First reports of the virus emerged from China in late 2019 and it has now infected more than 20 million people and killed at least 735,000 worldwide, including at least 5.1 million US cases and 163,000 deaths.