Washington: US President Donald Trump gave a shout-out Wednesday to “the leading authority on China,” sparking a flurry of Google searches as viewers raced to identify him.

“If you look at Mr. Pillsbury, the leading authority on China,” Trump told a press conference in New York Wednesday, “he was saying China has total respect for Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.”

Trump was referring to Michael Pillsbury, a long-time China hand who wrote the 2015 book, “The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower.”

Pillsbury is director of the Centre on Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. During the Reagan administration, he was an assistant undersecretary of defence for policy planning. He is a frequent visitor to China as well as military conferences such as the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Pillsbury also advised Trump’s transition team.

Turns out Trump didn’t get Pillsbury’s flattery exactly right, but he was close: The leadership in Beijing considers Trump superior to the last “five or six” presidents, Pillsbury told Tucker Carlson on Fox News in August. Trump, he said, is “so smart,” he’s “playing three-dimensional chess.”

— Bloomberg