President Donald Trump admitted Tuesday that his relationship with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping had probably frayed, as both countries face a new tariff deadline in December.
“I don’t think he likes me too much anymore, but that’s OK,” Trump told reporters in London.
Trump commented on China during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The trade negotiations were further complicated after Trump signed the bill in support of Hong Kong protesters just before Thanksgiving.
Trump has tried to make the case that he supports both Xi and the Hong Kong protesters, expressing confidence that they could work out a deal.
“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said in a statement.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross argued Tuesday that Congress had essentially forced Trump’s hand.
“The reality is the bill was going to be enacted anyway because they had a veto-proof majority in Congress. So that’s only a technical issue,” Ross said on CNBC on Tuesday.
Trump has readied an additional 15 percent tariff on about $156 billion of Chinese goods set for December 15, but there is little sign that the “phase one” deal announced in October will take place beforehand.
Xi and Trump were expected to meet in Chile in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and sign an agreement that would cancel the planned tariff hikes.
The summit, however, was canceled by Chile as the country’s leadership was facing political protests.
The president shocked markets earlier in the day after he indicated that he could wait until after the 2020 election to make a deal with China.
“In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal,” he said, noting that he did not have a deadline for a deal ahead of the proposed tariffs.
The Dow Jones fell 300 points after Trump’s comments.
But Trump dismissed the stock market dip, noting that it was “peanuts” compared to the overall skyrocketing market since he was first elected president.
“I have to make the right deal,” he said. “I’m not going to make a deal that’s not going to be great for our country.”
Trump said that the United States and China were at a “critical stage” but that he would hold firm for the right deal.
“I don’t watch the stock market. I watch jobs. Jobs are what I watch; I watch making the proper deal,” he said.