President Trump sent Chinese President Xi Jinping a message of congratulations on Wednesday for his “extraordinary elevation” at China’s Communist Party Congress.
The conversation President Trump referred to in the tweet was a phone call on Wednesday in which, according to the White House, Trump welcomed “continued cooperation of the two countries in the years ahead.” He also told Xi he was looking forward to visiting China next month and “advancing joint efforts to denuclearize North Korea.”
Spoke to President Xi of China to congratulate him on his extraordinary elevation. Also discussed NoKo & trade, two very important subjects!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2017
Xi’s “extraordinary elevation” at the Party Congress included confirmation for another five-year term as president, plus the addition of his name and ideological doctrine to the Communist Party’s constitution.
During the closing ceremony in Beijing, the party announced that Xi’s “Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” also referred to by the Congress as “Xi Jinping Thought,” would be formally incorporated into the constitution.
The UK Guardian speculates that this unusual announcement, plus the lack of a clear successor to Xi in the lineup of the new Politburo Standing Committee, indicates Xi will remain in power beyond the end of his next five-year term and has become effectively invulnerable to political challenge. Only Mao Zedong has previously been honored by the incorporation of “Mao Zedong Thought” into the Communist Party constitution while he was still alive.
In an interview with Lou Dobbs of Fox Business Network immediately after his phone call with Xi on Wednesday, Trump said of the Chinese president: “He’s a powerful man. I happen to think he’s a very good person. Now with that being said, he represents China, I represent the USA, so you know, there’s going to always be conflict. But we have a very good relationship.”
“People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he’s called president also,” Trump continued. “Now some people might call him the king of China. But he’s called president. But we have a very good relationship and that’s a positive thing.”
The overall point of Trump’s remarks on China in his Fox Business Network interview was that China has been much more helpful than Russia in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis. “It would be wonderful if we could speak to China and Russia, because China is helping us, and maybe Russia is going through the other way and hurting what we’re getting,” he said.
Trump hoped for a relationship with Russia as good as the one he has developed with China on a few more occasions during the interview.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un also congratulated Xi Jinping on Wednesday. According to North Korean media reports, the message expressed the conviction that the North Korean and Chinese Communist Parties would grow closer, acknowledged Xi’s new political doctrine, and praised China for entering “the road of building socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.”
Analysts debated the significance of Kim’s message, with some noting that such friendly personal greetings are rare for the North Korean dictator, while others said congratulatory notes between Pyongyang and its patrons in Beijing are standard procedure. Also unclear is the significance of the roughly one-month interval since North Korea’s last provocative missile or nuclear test.
The BBC notes that South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Russian President Vladimir Putin also sent messages of congratulation to President Xi. Asia Times reports that relations between South Korea and China are “showing signs of improvement,” after a period of tension over the deployment of the American THAAD missile shield in South Korea, and a summit meeting between Moon and Xi might be forthcoming within the next year.