President Donald Trump told reporters that China respects him for his “very, very large brain” during a rare news conference on Wednesday in which he addressed a wide range of issues, including trade, North Korea, and growing allegations of sexual misconduct against his Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
“I like China, and I like President Xi a lot. I think he’s a friend of mine. He may not be a friend of mine anymore, but I think he probably respects… China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain,” he said, as CNBC and other outlets reported.
During the conference, Trump also put emphasis on earlier accusations he made that Beijing was looking to interfere with the U.S. congressional elections later this year. He contended that China would like to see Trump lose an election because “they’ve never been challenged like this” but did not elaborate further, as per the CNBC report.
“We have evidence,” he said. “It’ll come out, yeah, I can’t tell you now, but it came — it didn’t come out of nowhere, that I can tell you. Now they’ve actually admitted that they’re going after farmers, I mean, I think most of you can cover that.”
The solo news conference is a rare event in the Trump presidency, as he tends to let his team handle the press on his behalf. As Bloomberg pointed out, in Trump’s first 15 months in the White House, he only held one solo press conference. The conference was held in New York City the day after the president’s United Nations speech in which he highlighted his “America First” policies and bragged about his administration’s accomplishments, drawing laughter from the audience.
During a UN Security Council meeting convened earlier on Wednesday to discuss the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Trump told the council he had found out China intended to meddle in the upcoming elections in an attempt to hurt his administration, Fortune reported.
“They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade,” Trump said, as quoted in the Fortune report. The Trump administration recently implemented a new round of tariffs against Chinese products, bringing the total value of sanctioned imports up to $250 billion.
The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, was present in the Security Council session and quickly interjected that his country does not and “will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs.”
“We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China,” Wang fumed.