A Spring Thaw? Trump Now Has ‘Very Good’ Words for China’s Leader

“A little hyperbole never hurts,” he wrote of his deal-making.

Before the recent courtship, Mr. Trump had little good to say about China or Mr. Xi. In March 2016, Mr. Trump was asked in an interview with The New York Times about his impressions of Mr. Xi. Instead, he vented about China’s trade surplus with the United States.

“Nobody has manipulated economic conditions better than they have,” he said.

After Mr. Trump won the election, he kept taking potshots at the Chinese leadership. In December, Mr. Trump had a friendly phone chat with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, alarming Chinese officials, who regard Taiwan as a breakaway province.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi had a brief phone call days after the American election, but more than two months passed before they had their next call — their first since the president took office. Mr. Trump said he would honor the “One China” policy, under which the United States does not give diplomatic recognition to Taiwan.

But even as that issue faded as a source of tension with China, Mr. Trump has appeared increasingly alarmed about North Korea.

After the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said on Jan. 1 that his government was preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, Mr. Trump complained that China had not put enough pressure on its ally and neighbor.

“China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea. Nice!” Mr. Trump said on Twitter.

The signs before his first meeting with Mr. Xi were not promising.

Days before they met at Mr. Trump’s resort in Florida, the president warned that China had to play along on North Korea or get out of the way.

“China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they…

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