US President Donald Trump has spoken with President Xi Jinping regularly in “cordial” phone conversations since the two sides first met at Trump’s Florida estate in April, with the most recent chat taking place immediately after a key leadership conference in Beijing that solidified Xi’s position. “At the Mar-a-Lago summit back in the spring, President Xi and President Trump began to develop a very good personal relationship and that’s been fostered since then,” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at an event in New York. “They speak on the phone quite often and they’re by and large relatively cordial conversations, so at the human level there’s a much better rapport than the prior administration had had with the Chinese leadership”. The close ties with Beijing, which Trump administration officials have publicised, underscore the US leader’s preference for negotiating with power brokers. China’s 19th party congress made Xi the most powerful Chinese leader in decades when his name was added to the party constitution, a move that put him on a level with late paramount leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. The meeting, expected to take place during Trump’s visit to China on November 8-10, is part of a broader Asia trip likely to be dominated by concerns about North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear programmes. China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported that Xi expressed a desire to work with Trump to “jointly blueprint future development of China-US ties”. The 19th Party Congress provides the opportunity for us to get some things done in the relationship to put us on a good footing deep into the future.