Trump pivoted again on China, turning down the heat on the trade war — for now.

Source: By Peter Baker, New York Times • Posted: Monday, August 26, 2019

 President Trump met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi of Egypt on Monday.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times

President Trump shifted tone on his trade war with China yet again on Monday, calling President Xi Jinping of China a “great leader” just three days after branding him an “enemy” of the United States.

Mr. Trump said that Chinese officials had reached out by telephone and that the two sides would soon restart talks aimed at a trade agreement, after the latest escalation in tariffs and his “order” to American companies to look for ways to pull out of China.

“We were called and we’re going to start very shortly to negotiate,” Mr. Trump said as he met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt on the sidelines of the Group of 7 summit meeting. “We’ll see what happens, but I think we’re going to make a deal.”

Mr. Trump appeared to be toning down a conflict that has battered world financial markets, hours after China’s chief negotiator did the same.

“We are willing to resolve the issue through consultations and cooperation in a calm attitude and resolutely oppose the escalation of the trade war,” said Liu He, China’s vice premier. “We believe that the escalation of the trade war is not beneficial for China, the United States nor to the interests of the people of the world.”

Mr. Trump has pivoted repeatedly in his language on the conflict in recent days. On Friday, after China imposed new tariffs in retaliation for American levies, Mr. Trump said he “hereby ordered” American companies to start leaving and vowed to increase tariffs of his own. He referred to Mr. Xi as an “enemy.”

On Sunday, he said he had “second thoughts” about the escalation. But within hours, aides rushed out statements saying that the only regret he had was not being even tougher on China.