President Donald Trump has announced that he plans on working closely with Chinese President Xi Jinping to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
“Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the Coronavirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet,” Trump said on Twitter early Friday.
“China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!” added Trump, who notably refrained from referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus,” days after he told Fox News that he would stop using the term.
Meanwhile, Xi told Trump that relations between Beijing and Washington were at a “critical moment” and vowed to cooperate to defeat the coronavirus, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.
“Both sides will benefit if we cooperate, both will lose if we fight each other,” Xi said, according to Xinhua.
“Cooperation is the only correct choice. I hope the US side could take real actions. The two sides should work together to enhance cooperation fighting the virus and develop non-confrontational relations,” he added.
Xi told Trump that China “understands the United States’ current predicament over the COVID-19 outbreak and stands ready to provide support within its capacity.”
He also urged Washington to “take substantive action in improving bilateral relations.”
And Xi “suggested that the two sides work together to boost cooperation in epidemic control and other fields, and develop a relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation,” Xinhua reported.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, the countries were in the midst of a trade war and in stark conflicts over intellectual property, human rights, Taiwan and Beijing’s policies in Hong Kong and the South China Sea.
The phone conversation between the two world leaders followed a video conference meeting of G-20 leaders during which Xi gave a speech calling for greater international cooperation.
The virus was first reported in late December in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since killed more than 3,200 people in that country. The spread of the virus domestically has since stalled, but China has stepped up efforts to prevent travelers bringing the disease back from overseas by essentially closing borders to foreigners beginning Saturday.
The phone call between the two leaders amid the global emergency follows almost two years of escalating trade tensions that were only partially resolved in January with the signing of a phase one trade agreement.