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China's Xi calls Trump his friend and says the US won't disconnect with China

Key Points
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping says trade skirmishes won't reverse globalization trend.
  • Xi is on the final day of a three-day state vist to Russia.
  • Russia kicked off its annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Thursday, an event at which it will try to boost its appeal to international businesses and investors.
VIDEO0:5700:57
China will defend a multilateral trade system, Xi says

Chinese President Xi Jinping told an audience at the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday that the U.S. isn't interested in disconnecting with China and that President Donald Trump is his friend.

Xi is on the final day of a three day state-visit to Russia during which he has exchanged warm words with host Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting of the two prominent global leaders portrays a warm relationship and comes as Russia's relations with the U.S. are at a low ebb.

But during the plenary session Xi claimed connections between the U.S. and China would remain strong.

"It's hard to imagine a complete break of the United States from China or of China from the United States. We are not interested in this, and our American partners are not interested in this. President Trump is my friend and I am convinced he is also not interested in this," Xi said in Chinese, interpreted into Russian and then translated into English by Reuters.

Earlier, and after being asked about a trade war with the United States, Xi said, via translation, that China would remain an "ardent proponent of globalization." To applause from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Xi added that global integration was still "intact as a trend" and could not be checked by arguments over trade terms.

"It is a small part of a greater wave, which will bring some small changes, but won't be able to stop globalization overall," he said.

Xi said global systems and the organizations that set terms were in need of improvement but there was no need to overhaul the system.

The Chinese president also called for developing and growing economies should have their voices heard as their new roles "commanded respect."

Best friends

On Wednesday, President Xi Jinping had already described Russian President Vladimir Putin as his "best friend."

"In the past six years, we have met nearly 30 times. Russia is the country that I have visited the most times, and President Putin is my best friend and colleague," Xi said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 6, 2019: China's Persident Xi Jinping (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands at a ceremony at St Petersburg University in which Xi Jinping was awarded St Petersburg University honorary doctoral degree.
Alexei Nikolsky | TASS | Getty Images

Russia and China appear to be intent on strengthening their alliance and fostering deeper cooperation in the face of increased political and economic hostility from the U.S. That bid to strengthen bilateral ties continues this week with Xi visiting the country for top-level talks with Putin.

Welcoming Xi to the Kremlin on Wednesday, Putin said ties between Russia and China stood at "an unprecedented level." Xi echoed that sentiment by saying that the countries' relations had withstood "trials and tribulations" over the years and were now better than ever.

"We've managed to take our relationship to the highest level in our history," Xi said. "We will continue to improve our ties and we are ready to go hand in hand with you," he told Putin at the leaders' initial meeting that was broadcast online.

Now watch: Xi and Putin meet in Russia
VIDEO3:2903:29
Chinese President Xi meets with Putin on a three-day visit to Russia