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Trump breaks with norm to call on Chinese reporter instead of American

President Donald Trump gestures during a press conference with President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, July 13, 2017. Photo: AP 

President Trump called on a non-American journalist during Thursday's joint press conference with the President of France, breaking with protocol and denying American journalists a rare opportunity to ask a question of their president.

After French President Emmanuel Macron called for a final question from an "American journalist," President Trump instead called on a man who identified himself as a journalist from "Phoenix TV of China."

The reporter proceeded to ask Macron a question in French, then asked Trump about his perception of China's leader, Xi Jinping.

"You have just met with the Chinese president during the G20 summit," the reporter asked. "How do you want to continue to work with China and what do you personally think about Mr. Xi Jinping?"

At joint press conferences with foreign leaders, protocol dictates that two questions are given to the host country's press pool, and two questions are given to US reporters. The first US question went to Cecilia Vega, an ABC News reporter, who questioned Trump about the Russia collusion investigation.

Asked for comment about Trump choosing to call on a non-American reporter, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNNMoney, "Like the members of the White House Press Corps, The President wants a free press and he can call on any reporter he chooses."

"Seems like a clear violation of protocol for this question not to go to an American journalist," Jonathan Lemire, a White House reporter for the Associated Press, tweeted.

The White House Correspondents Association, which represents journalists covering the administration, has yet to comment on the incident. WHCA President Jeff Mason, a White House correspondent for Reuters, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was the second press kerfuffle of the day in Paris. Earlier, when Trump greeted staff at the US embassy, pool reporters were kept out of the event. A White House aide later tweeted video of the president's formal remarks at the embassy.

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