- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2019

President Trump on Friday said he spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about arranging a formal signing of the two countries’ “phase-one” trade deal.

He also suggested there has been “progress” in diffusing tensions with Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protesters for months have pushed for greater autonomy from the mainland after a since-withdrawn extradition bill infuriated the island.

The Trump administration decided not to slap Beijing with steeper tariffs on Dec. 15 after both sides settled on an initial trade deal that also scales back some existing levies. In exchange, China is supposed to ramp up its purchases of U.S. farm products to $40-$50 billion per year.

“Had a very good talk with President Xi of China concerning our giant Trade Deal,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “China has already started large scale purchaes [sic] of agricultural product & more.”

The phase-one deal pushes off thornier issues, such as Beijing’s mass subsidization of domestic industries, to the second round of talks.

Mr. Trump also said they spoke about North Korea during the call. The administration has been unable to make progress with strongman Kim Jong Un despite multiple summits on how to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Mr. Kim has hinted at a Christmas surprise, raising fears he will test a long-range missile again.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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