Photos: Reuters/CNTV

Asia Times has obtained a transcript of a February 2018 telephone conversation between US President Donald Trump and Chinese Premier Xi Xinping from sources we believe to be unreliable. It’s obviously a spoof, but may contain some elements of truth.

Trump: So how are things in China? I hear everything’s booming.

XI: Well, there’s always good news and bad news. We’re getting a lot done but we still are carrying the dead weight of a lot of state-owned enterprises run by party hacks who don’t know that we’re in the 21st century. I’ve been trying to reform them for two years but they dig in their heels. These guys want me out in the worst way, and it’s not so easy to get rid of them. I’ve got my main men in all the top slots, but there’s a lot of resistance.

Trump: I know exactly what you’re talking about. I gave American business the biggest tax cut in history, and the dumb fatcats still won’t invest in American jobs. They’ll just use the money to buy back their own stock, like they’ve been doing since 2010. None of these guys wanted me to win the election, and they’re all hoping that somebody will find pictures of me with a Russian hooker and impeach me. Wages aren’t rising because businesses aren’t investing, and the voters are getting antsy. Unless I can show people higher earnings, I’m in trouble.

Xi: Well, there’s one thing you could do, although it’s a little out of the ordinary.

Trump: I’m in the market for out of the ordinary.

Xi: You could blame me.

Trump: Tell me more.

Xi: Tell them that it’s all China’s fault – cheap imports from China shut American factories and destroy American manufacturing jobs.

Trump: I’ve been saying that all along, but where’s that supposed to get me? You want to have a trade war?

Xi: No, of course not – that’s the last thing I want. Threaten me with tariffs, and then demand that China open up its market to American companies – financial companies, automobile companies, aircraft companies, the whole nine yards.

Trump: Why should you want that?

Xi: I need your guys to come in and flatten the dumb zombies at my own state-owned enterprises. I may look like an absolute leader, but I don’t have the power to break that many rice bowls. Believe me, I’ve been trying, but a lot of Chinese expect lifetime employment. If it comes from me, I could get my head handed to me. But if you threaten me with a trade war, I can go to the Communist Party and say, “Look, comrades, we can’t afford a trade war with the United States. It would reduce growth to the point that people will turn away from us. It hurts me to do this, but we’re going to have to let American companies into our market.

Trump: I get it – I will play the heavy, and I do your dirty work for you.

Xi: I’d consider it a personal favor. You’ll help me to accomplish what I’ve wanted to do all along – put the zombies out of business.

Trump: Anything for a friend, Xinping. I’ll get my guys working on it right away. And you can do me a favor in return.

Xi: Name it.

Trump: Rattle your saber. Threaten retaliation. Act like the injured party. Make Americans mad. The madder they get at you, the more they’ll like me.

Xi: Don’t worry. I’m going to defend China’s honor and economic interests, and only give way reluctantly when the alternative appears to be a trade war.

Trump: Good to do business with you, Xinping.

Xi: The feeling is mutual.

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