During his visit to Paris yesterday, US President Donald Trump made time to praise Chinese President Xi Jinping, showing his usual sensitivity towards world events.
At a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron held ahead of Bastille Day, Trump was prompted to call on an American journalist to ask a question. Instead, Trump pointed towards a Chinese reporter who threw him a softball about China, asking Trump what he personally thinks about Xi.
Continuing to keep the flames of his bromance alive, Trump responded with gushing praise:
“Well, he’s a friend of mine. I have great respect for him. We’ve gotten to know each other very well. A great leader. He’s a very talented man. I think he’s a very good man. He loves China, I can tell you. He loves China. He wants to do what’s right for China.”
Commenters online couldn’t help noting that Trump’s words of praise came only hours after the death of Liu Xiaobo, China’s best-known political prisoner, was announced. Despite calls for him to be given the freedom to choose where he wanted to be treated for terminal liver cancer, Liu died in a Shenyang hospital on Thursday evening after spending much of the last decade in prison for calling for democratic reform in China.
Beijing couldn't have asked for more. On the day that Liu Xiaobo died, Trump is publicly praising Xi.
— Andrew Beatty (@AndrewBeatty) July 13, 2017
After Trump was done extolling, Macron also failed to offer any words about Liu’s death, despite speaking out on his detention on Twitter a short time before.
Twitter is blocked in China. The clips of Trump and Macron praising Xi – today – are what will be seen on Chinese television
— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) July 13, 2017
Meanwhile, Trump once again showed off his faulty understanding of Chinese history, claiming that China boasted an “8,000 year culture” during an interview with the media on Air Force One. While Xi may be a “very talented man,” those talents do not appear to extend to education.
Trump on Chinese history and the White House pic.twitter.com/yyptx6zxm5
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 13, 2017
Later in the day, the White House released a statement saying that Trump was, in fact, “deeply saddened” by the death of Liu who had “dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty.”
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) July 13, 2017
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