- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2020

President Trump heaped praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday and predicted the communist leader will be successful in combating the coronavirus that began in the city of Wuhan and has grown into a global health scare.

Mr. Trump on Twitter said he had a “long and very good” conversation with Mr. Xi, a leader he frequently praises as a tough rival and advocate for the world’s No. 2 economy.

“He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus. He feels they are doing very well, even building hospitals in a matter of only days,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Nothing is easy, but he will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.”

Mr. Trump recently struck a phase-one trade deal with China. He is hoping to keep the relationship on an even keel as negotiators enter “phase two” in an election year.

“Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation,” Mr. Trump wrote. “We are working closely with China to help!”

Later Friday, Mr. Trump told White House reporters he’s satisfied with China’s cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

“We’re working together,” Mr. Trump said from the South Lawn. “It’s a tough situation, I think they’re doing a very good job,”

His praise of Mr. Xi stands in contrast to outrage around the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who was repudiated by Chinese authorities for blowing the whistle on coronavirus cases in December, only to die from the disease himself Friday after treating patients.

“Unlike Dr. Li, Chairman Xi doesn’t care about human life,” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, said in a scathing statement about Dr. Li’s death.

Critics believe the Communist Party’s inclination to stifle information about the coronavirus delayed the Chinese response in December and early January.

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

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