Bannon tells of Trump's strong respect for Xi

Top News | Bloomberg and Phoebe Ng 14 Sep 2017

US President Donald Trump respects President Xi Jinping more than any other foreign leader, his former chief strategist Stephen Bannon said in a speech in Hong Kong in which he also warned that China must cease what he described as economic warfare against the United States.

"The relationship they have is very strong, and I don't think there's a world leader that President Trump respects more than the president of China," Bannon said.

The speech, to financial professionals at a forum organized by CLSA, an overseas unit of China's biggest state-owned brokerage, Citic Securities Co, was closed to the press.

The forum venue had only 20 people taking part, said Channel News Asia correspondent Wei Du. But he said they were "100 percent the global elite investors who possibly manage trillions of dollars among them."

Six people who attended described what Bannon said.

"Everybody talks about this trade war that's coming. I think we can avoid a trade war," Bannon said. "But to avoid the trade war we're going to have to deal with the economic war against America."

China must allow more US access to its markets and stop requiring what he called "forced technology transfer" by US companies seeking to do business in the country.

"But there's great affinity between our two countries," he added, citing their World War II alliance.

Trump will visit China in November, a person familiar with his plans told Bloomberg. He is also expected to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in the Philippines that month.

Since leaving the White House in August and returning to the conservative news outlet Breitbart News, Bannon, 63, has cast himself as a defender of the nationalist agenda Trump advocated on the campaign trail.

Bannon has cited his pursuit of a harder line against China as a source of tension with other administration officials.

"The most acrimonious, vitriolic, nastiest debates inside the White House, in the Roosevelt Room and in the Oval Office, were about trade," Bannon said.

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