Donald Trump Apparently Made Up ‘Calls’ From China About Trade Talks, Puzzled Chinese Officials Deny Calling

Donald Trump claimed that trade talks with China were restarting after the Chinese called him to discuss the situation, but that apparently never happened.

Donald Trump appears at G7 summit
Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images

Donald Trump claimed that trade talks with China were restarting after the Chinese called him to discuss the situation, but that apparently never happened.

Stock markets jumped on Monday morning, recovering at least some of the serious losses suffered over the past week, as markets responded to statements by President Donald Trump. Reportedly, the Chinese called United States trade negotiators on Sunday night to request new talks aimed at ending the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, according to Investor’s Business Daily.

But shortly after Trump made the dramatic announcement, Chinese officials denied that any such calls were placed, according to a report by the business news network CNBC.

“China called last night our top trade people and said ‘let’s get back to the table’ so we will be getting back to the table and I think they want to do something,” Trump said, while attending the G7 summit in France, as quoted by IBD. Calling the supposed calls “a very positive development for the world,” Trump added that China has been “hurt very badly,” by the trade war.

On Friday, Trump announced that he would raise tariffs on about $250 billion worth of imported Chinese goods from the 25 percent he had originally imposed to 30 percent, according to CNN. The announcement sent stocks into a tailspin, with the Dow Jones average dropping more than 700 points.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that China pays the cost of the stiff tariffs, yet tariffs are essentially paid by the American companies that purchase goods from China. In nearly all cases, the additional cost is passed on to U.S. consumers — in effect a new tax increase paid by Americans, according to a Reuters explainer.

Xi Jinping stares
Chinese President Xi Jinping apparently did not call Donald Trump’s trade negotiators, as Trump implied. Mark Schiefelbein / Getty Images

In addition to claiming that U.S. consumers are not paying the cost of the tariffs, Trump now apparently has claimed that his tariff policy has forced the Chinese government back to the negotiating table despite an Associated Press report citing a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson who said no calls had taken place.

In addition, the editor of the official newspaper of China’s governing Communist party, Hu Xijin, said that beyond “technical contacts,” no such calls had taken place and that Trump was exaggerating the significance of routine contacts, according to the CNBC report. Reportedly, however, Trump himself claimed that the contacts were at “the highest level,” potentially implying that Chinese President Xi Jinping was involved.

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In fact, the editor said via his Twitter account, not only has China so far refused a return to the negotiating table, China is set to “take further countermeasures” against Trump’s latest tariffs, and that “the U.S. side will feel the pain.”

If Trump did indeed fabricate the supposed calls from China about trade talks, it would not be the first time that he has invented a phone call that did not exist. After Trump made controversial remarks during a speech to a Boy Scout gathering in 2017, Trump claimed, “I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them,” according to an Associated Press fact-checking report. Purportedly, no such phone call was ever placed.

According to the AP fact check, Trump also claimed that the then-president of Mexico called him to “compliment” him on his U.S. border security measures, but that phone call supposedly never happened either.