President Trump has previously expressed being "disappointed" at China for "taking advantage" of the US with "one-sided" trade, as well as called the country a "currency manipulator." But speaking in Beijing on Thursday, he appeared to admire any clever exploitation of the US. "I don't blame China," he said in a speech to business leaders after a two-hour sit-down with President Xi Jinping. "After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for benefit of their citizens? I give China great credit." Instead of pointing the finger at his host nation, Trump blamed his own predecessors "for allowing this trade deficit to take place and to grow." Trump also touted the "great chemistry" he says he shares with Xi and said he thinks the two countries will do "tremendous things," per the Washington Post.
Trump said he mentioned the "chronic imbalance" of the nations' trade status to Xi, and the leaders announced they'd worked out $250 billion in various trade deals, which China's commerce minister called a "miracle," per Reuters. Details weren't offered, and CNN notes that many agreements were already in progress when Trump took office. Xi, for his part, was more "reserved," per the Post, simply talking about a "new starting point" for the two nations and a "win-win" relationship while avoiding discussing his personal relationship with Trump. Trump and Xi didn't field questions during their joint appearance; CNN notes that Trump's three immediate predecessors in the White House had all convinced Chinese leaders on their own first state visits there to take questions. "It was at the Chinese insistence there were no questions today," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.