Trump hints at deal with China to end trade war

He also says he'll meet N. Korea's Kim next year and that US not rushing to lift sanctions

US President Donald Trump appeared to signal a trade deal with China.

"We're going to try and make a deal with China because I want to have great relationships with President Xi (Jinping), as I do, and with China," he said at a freewheeling 1½-hour press conference on Wednesday, the day after the Republican Party lost its majority in the House to the Democratic Party but expanded its majority in the Senate in midterm elections.

Mr Trump told reporters in Washington he will also meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "some time early next year".

Meanwhile, North Korea had to be responsive for sanctions to be lifted, but he was in no rush, he said.

"We're very happy how it's going with North Korea. We think it's going fine," he said.

"We're in no rush, the sanctions are on, the missiles have stopped, the rockets have stopped, the hostages are home, the great heroes have been coming home, (Vice-President) Mike Pence was in Hawaii (for) one of the most beautiful ceremonies anyone has ever seen for the fallen," he said.

Mr Pence was in Hawaii in August to receive the remains of American soldiers sent by North Korea, following an agreement to do so in Singapore in June. More remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War were "being provided as we speak", Mr Trump said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to meet his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong Chol in New York this week, but the State Department on Wednesday said the meeting had been postponed.

President Trump brushed off the postponement as a travel scheduling issue. "I'm in no rush," he repeated. "The sanctions are on."

 
 
 

Mr Trump met the North Korean leader in Singapore in June.

"I'd love to take the sanctions off but they have to be responsive too," he said. "But we're not in any rush at all, no rush whatsoever."

"Before I got here they were dealing with this for over 70 years. And I guess on a nuclear front for 25 years. That's a long time," he said.

"I probably left Singapore four or five months ago, and we made more progress in that four or five months than they've made in 70 years, and nobody else could have done what I've done. But I'll say this very simply, we are in no rush, the sanctions are on, and whenever it is."

Asked about healing America's political divide after a bitter election, he segued to China, saying one of the things that could help heal America was its own success.

"China would have superseded us in two years as an economic power," he said.

"Now they're not even close. China got rid of their China 25 because I found it very insulting. I said that to them... Because China 25 means in 2025 they're going to take over economically the world. I said that's not happening."

The reference appeared to be to Made In China 2025, a state-sponsored push to dominate future technologies, which has become a sticking point in the United States-China relationship as the two countries are locked in a trade war.

There have been no reports of China abandoning Made in China 2025. But some recent reports have said Beijing may be willing to water it down in exchange for a trade deal.

"I don't want them to go down," President Trump said. "We'll have a good meeting and we're going to see what we can do."

While it was unclear what he meant, he was likely referring to the meeting with President Xi at the Group of 20 Summit in Argentina at the end of this month.

The Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said yesterday that a meeting between President Xi and President Trump at the summit will be of great significance to both sides.

The meeting is being seen as an opportunity for the two leaders to reach some arrangement to wind back the tariff war which is damaging sectors of both economies. There has been speculation in recent days that a deal will be reached.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2018, with the headline 'Trump hints at deal with China to end trade war'. Print Edition | Subscribe