Remarks by President Trump in Meeting with Vice Premier Liu He of the People’s Republic of China
3:43 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. It’s a great honor to have the Vice Premier of China with us, and also the Vice Minister of Trade of China. We have had long discussions. This has been going on for quite some time. It will be, by far, if it happens, the biggest deal ever made — not only the biggest trade deal ever made. It will be the biggest trade deal by far, but it’ll also be the biggest deal ever made. The two largest countries doing a trade deal. There won’t be anything that will match that. And we’ll see what happens.
We’ve done very well. We’ve had a very, very strong relationship, as my relationship is with President Xi.
I think we’ll start by reading the letter that President Xi sent to me and to us. It puts us off to a good foot. And then we’ll also repeat a couple of the remarks that the Vice Premier stated. And then we are going to have Mr. Lighthizer speak for a couple of seconds. And we’re then going to get back to business, and you can go and have fun and write your stories.
So thank you very much for being here. We appreciate it. And if you could start by reading the letter from President Xi, and maybe you could speak louder.
INTERPRETER: Message from President Xi to President Trump:
I send you my best wishes as a new round of high-level consultations is being held between our two countries on economic and trade issues. I ask Mr. Liu He to bring to you sincere greetings and best wishes from me.
Right now, China-U.S. relations are at a critically important stage. Last month, we had a successful meeting in Argentina, in which we agreed to work together to build a bilateral relationship based on coordination, cooperation, and stability. That was followed by the good conversation we had through a phone call and the letters of congratulations we sent each other on the 40th anniversary of our diplomatic relations.
Guided by the agreement we reached, our economic teams have engaged in intensive consultations and made good progress. I hope our two sides will continue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and step up consultations by meeting each other halfway in order to reach an early agreement that works for the interests of both sides.
Such an agreement will send a positive signal to our two peoples and the broader international community. It will serve to ensure healthy development of China-U.S. relations and contribute to steady growth of the world economy.
Mr. President, in our last phone call, you said you wanted for China to buy more agricultural products. I have made some arrangements about which, I believe, you might have been briefed.
As I often say, I feel we have known each other for a long time, ever since we first met. I cherish the good working relations and personal friendship with you. I enjoy our meetings and phone calls in which we could talk about anything. It falls to us to work together and accomplish things meaningful for the people of our two countries and the world at large.
Mr. President, if there is anything, you could always approach me through various means. I hope we’ll keep close contact in various ways. As the Chinese Lunar New Year draws near, my wife and I wish to send our New Year greetings to you, to Melania, and to your family. May you enjoy a happy and prosperous New Year.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a beautiful letter and we appreciate it. You may go with the Vice Premier’s statements, and then I’m going to ask for you to say a few words, Bob, if you don’t mind.
INTERPRETER: The Vice Premier said that President Xi attaches tremendous importance to the personal friendship with you, and he hopes to you — to see your continued success. And over the past two years, since you took office, you have made tremendous accomplishment on both the domestic and diplomatic front.
Thanks to your policies of tax reduction and deregulation, your U.S. economy, as I heard from my American colleagues over there, has now been enjoying high growth and low employment with unprecedented prosperity. And it is because of your decisive decision that has directly facilitated the major breakthrough — the relationship between the U.S. and the DPRK.
And under the strategic guidance of you and of President Xi and you, Mr. President, it is possible that China and the U.S. will have the possibility of striking a successful deal on trade.
And my trip to the U.S. this time is to follow through on the important agreement reached between you and President Xi to accelerate the 90-day consultation between China and the United States in the hope of striking a comprehensive deal. And we’ve been working conscientiously with Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Mnuchin over the past couple of days, and our discussions are going well. We have achieved a lot of important consensus towards the direction of striking a comprehensive deal, which is to be ultimately reached between you and President Xi.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. Bob, maybe you could say just a few words as to where we are, how we’re doing, what we’re discussing. And then maybe I’ll ask the Vice Premier to say a few words, and we’ll get on with our negotiations.
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: Great. Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps, go ahead, if you want to say that.
THE PRESIDENT: Got it? He speaks very good English.
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: Based on many months of negotiations, we had two very intense, very long days of discussions. Your team was — all of your team was involved. I think we’ve made progress. We have much work to do if we’re going to have an agreement, but we made substantial progress. We focused on the most important issues, which are the structural issues and the protection of U.S. intellectual property, stopping forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, agriculture and services issues, and enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.
Both sides agree this agreement is worth nothing — if we can get an agreement, it’s worth nothing without enforcement. That’s been your instruction from the beginning. So we’re focusing — we have a lot more issues to cover, but we focused on the structural issues — the ones that you’ve been so focused on — and we talked about enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.
THE PRESIDENT: And you’ll be going in early February, with your group, to China to continue negotiations.
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: We are more or less — Mr. President, we are more or less in continuous negotiations. There will be a brief pause for the Chinese New Year — briefer than the Chinese want — but our people will be in contact. We’re going back and forth with papers and with discussions. The Secretary and I will be going over there shortly, and then we’ll see where we are.
At this point, it’s impossible for me to predict success, but we are in a place that, if things work, it could happen.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. And we look forward to that, and we look forward to the results of your trip. But you’re really discussing it anyway, whether you’re in China or here. We have a thing called the telephone and other means of talking. So I know you’re spending a lot of time, and it’s moving along well.
So I just want to say the Vice Premier is a friend of mine. He has become — he is truly one of the most respected men in Asia, one of the most respected men in all of China, and, frankly, one of the most respected men anywhere in the world. And it’s a great honor to have you with us.
VICE PREMIER LIU: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: And if you’d like to say a few words — please, Liu.
VICE PREMIER LIU: It’s an honor to meet you, Mr. President.
I don’t think you can hear me.
And I fully agree with the report that satisfies Ambassador Lighthizer, and we actually have to establish three key themes. First about (inaudible). And secondly, about drugs coming through. And thirdly, about enforcement or implementation.
But, at the same time, we’ll also discuss something from China: the need to do something where (inaudible) U.S. some problem with (inaudible).
So I thank you so much to be with you, and I’m waiting for (inaudible) in Beijing (inaudible), and I hope we will make a deal.
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll be going. And we look forward to that. And then a little back-and-forth, and ultimately, I know that I’ll be meeting with President Xi, maybe once and maybe twice, and it’ll all seem — it seems to be coming together.
I do appreciate the fact that you said so much about our farmers and that you’ll be doing purchases quickly about the farmers. That’s really wonderful.
VICE PREMIER LIU: Five — five million.
THE PRESIDENT: Five million —
INTERPRETER: Five million tons of soybeans.
THE PRESIDENT: Five million tons of soybeans. Wow.
VICE PREMIER LIU: Per day.
THE PRESIDENT: Per day. That’s going to make our farmers very happy. That’s a lot of soybeans. That’s really nice. And I know they said some other things, and we’ll put out a release for the press.
But the relationship is very, very good between China and the United States. And the personal relationships are very good, with the Vice Premier, with myself and President Xi, and with our representatives. It’s been very, very good. And, you know, you read a lot of things. Sometimes you hear good, sometimes you don’t hear good. But I will say that I think that the relationship that we have right now with China has never been so advanced. I don’t think it’s ever been better. But I can you tell you for a fact, it’s never been so advanced.
And certainly a deal has never been so advanced. Because, essentially, we don’t have a deal. We never had a trade deal. We’re going to have a great trade deal. But we never really had a trade deal with China, and now we’re going to have a great trade deal with China, if it all works out. And we look forward to it. It’s going to be great for both countries — not just us, not just them. This is going to be great for both countries.
And I know you’ve already done a lot of opening up China to the financial services industry. It’s been happening very much, very rapidly. And hopefully we can get that done for our farmers, our manufacturers, and likewise, the United States.
So it’s just an honor to be with you. And I will see you today, but I’ll see you a lot over the next month, that I can tell you. Okay?
Thank you very much. It’s a great honor. Thank you.
4:04 P.M. EST