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US President Donald Trump and China’s head of state and party Xi Jinping attended the Asia-Pacific summit via video link. The talks between the heads of state and government of the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (APEC) were the first, albeit virtual, contact between the two presidents in eight months. Relations between the US and China have fallen to their lowest level since diplomatic relations began four decades ago. There is tension over China’s handling of the pandemic, the trade war, Beijing’s tough course in Hong Kong, the persecution of the Uyghurs and American sanctions.
Trump and Xi Jinping last spoke on the phone on March 27 — before the pandemic really started. Afterwards Trump was full of praise for Xi Jinping: “Great respect!” “We work closely together”, wrote Trump on Twitter about the “very good conversation”. Today Trump never misses an opportunity to blame China for the “plague”, the “China virus” — also to divert attention from his own failures. He accuses China of insufficient action against the massive outbreak in central China just over a year ago. “We must hold the nation to account that unleashed this plague on the world — China.”