AGENCIES, New Delhi: After weeks of bitter exchanges over the coronavirus pandemic, it seems that the US and China would want to bury their bitterness and work together afresh. At least, that’s what the outcome of a recent phone conversation between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping suggests if reports are to be believed.
In a tweet, the US president described his first interaction with his Chinese counterpart since the outbreak began three months ago.
This is the first direct communication between the leaders as the number of US coronavirus cases surpassed those in China for the first time.
Xi Jinping has called on Donald Trump to take “substantive actions” to improve relations between the two countries, as China prepared to shut its borders to foreign arrivals amid fears of infections coming from abroad. The ban comes into effect on Friday as the country reported its first locally infected coronavirus infection in three days and reported 54 imported cases.
According to state media, Xi told Trump in a phone call on Friday that US-China relations had reached an “important juncture”.
“Working together brings both sides benefits, fighting hurts both. Cooperation is the only choice,” he said. Xi said he hoped the US would take “substantive actions” to improve US-China relations to develop a relationship that is “without conflict and confrontation” but based on “mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation.”
After the phone call, Trump said he had a “very good conversation” with Xi.
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. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
Trump wrote on Twitter that China had “developed a strong understanding of the virus” and was working with the US.
Meanwhile, China has instructed local airlines to maintain only one route per country, once a week, as of 29 March.
The US has now overtaken China in terms of infections, with more than 85,500 cases, compared to 81,340 in mainland China. The death toll in China was 3,292, according to health officials on Friday.
Interestingly, both leaders appeared to strike a conciliatory tone after Trump and his secretary of state Mike Pompeo angered Beijing by repeatedly referring to “the Chinese virus” when discussing the COVID-19 outbreak first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.