China’s Xi fetes Trump on first day of Beijing trip

U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

November 8, 2017

By Philip Wen and Steve Holland

BEIJING (Reuters) – With lavish pageantry and an uncharacteristic personal flourish, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday rolled out a red carpet welcome for U.S President Donald Trump at the Forbidden City, the ancient home of China’s emperors.

While North Korea and trade are set to dominate the formal part of the visit, which ends on Friday, China has been keen to show the importance it puts on Trump’s visit, the first by a foreign leader since the end of a key Communist Party congress last month where Xi cemented his power.

Trump and his wife Melania were whisked from Beijing airport – where they were met by China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi, a key player in the outreach to Trump since he won election a year ago – straight to the Forbidden City.

Chatting over cups of tea, Trump showed Xi a video of his granddaughter Arabella Kushner singing in Mandarin and reciting classical Chinese poetry, prompting Xi to compliment her performance as worthy of an “A+”, Chinese state media said.

Xi said he hoped Arabella would visit China soon, noting that she was already a “child star” in China, the official Xinhua news agency said.

A video of Arabella reciting a Chinese poem went viral on Chinese social media shortly after Trump’s election last year.

In another break from precedent, Xi himself gave the Trumps a tour of the imperial treasures of the Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage site cleared of tourists for the day, before the two first couples watched Chinese opera and an acrobatic display.

“That’s something!” Trump said after the show, as he and Xi walked away. “We’re having a great time.”

China had widely been expected to pull out all the stops for Trump, who has pressed it to do more to control its neighbor North Korea, and resolve a yawning trade gap with the United States.

The ceremony on Trump’s arrival at Beijing’s airport on Wednesday was also more elaborate than usual, with the Trumps met by a marching band and soldiers standing at attention. Smartly dressed children waving miniature Chinese and American flags jumped up and down as Trump’s motorcade passed.

In another rare, if not unprecedented step, Trump’s official ceremonial welcome at the Great Hall of the People on Thursday will be broadcast live on national television, state broadcaster CCTV said.

While the sprawling palace complex in the center of Beijing is a regular stop for visiting dignitaries, it is rare for a Chinese leader to provide a personal escort, confirmation of the “state visit-plus” treatment that China had promised for Trump.

(Reporting by Philip Wen and Steve Holland; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

  • Kene

    This is a display to Kim Jong-un…Letting him know that if it comes down to you or them…

  • Ed L

    President Trump better hold on to his Wallet.

  • Deplorable Phytomorphogenesis

    ☆President Trump☆

    Where did the worthless blacky obummer land on his trip to Beijing? Some tarmac behind some sewer?
    The darky is a useless POS.

  • No Mas

    N Korea will never give up its goal of military nuke power… N Korea will have nothing to negotiate with unless it completely changes and that will never happen willingly by murdering anarchist in Kim Jong ….
    Only solution I see is to create internal turmoil amongst the military and Kim Jong and then assassinate all in power quietly…. NINJA STYLE!

  • Varangian Guard

    The USA could stop trading with China TODAY, the same could not be said of the Chinese. It would behoove China to find the USA agreeable in trade worthy of helping both parties. The citizens of the USA could survive with higher prices whilst we resurrect our manufacturing legacy, China however would never ascend towards the world financial power they aspire to reach without the USA. How we survive that ascent is highly dependant on the current administration rather than ANYTHING we have seen in the last 24 years.

  • BigC

    This is good stuff. Xi and Trump have a very good relationship. Now comes the hard part. We will quickly find out about Trump’s negotiating power. We want NoKo handcuffed and denuclearized. Xi wants a unified China (Taiwan). We want them to tone down their island grabbing military development. We want better trade agreements. Not that any of this will happen now, but what else does China want? Big question. Great to see these relations open up.