China rolls out the red carpet for Donald Trump
Beijing: Welcomed to China with an outsized dose of pomp and pageantry, President Donald Trump pronounced himself wowed by Beijing’s lavish greeting on Wednesday at the start of a two-day visit in which he aims to employ flattery, scolding and cajolery to press the rising Asian power on trade and North Korea.
Trump, saddled with consistently low approval ratings at home, is duelling with a newly emboldened Chinese President Xi Jinping, who recently consolidated power. The American president’s every utterance will be studied by allies anxious to see if his inward-looking “America First” mantra could cede power in the region to China.
A visit sure to include tough negotiations on multiple policy fronts began with a full-on display of diplomatic niceties: The president and first lady Melania Trump were greeted at the airport by dozens of children who waved US and Chinese flags and jumped up and down. The couple sipped tea with Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, and received a private tour of the historic Forbidden City, Beijing’s ancient imperial palace, including a performance by young opera students before dinner. Trump said afterward that he’s “having a great time” in China and at one point threw open his arms and appeared to exclaim “wow.”
On Twitter later, Trump said: “On behalf of @FLOTUS Melania and I, THANK YOU for an unforgettable afternoon and evening at the Forbidden City in Beijing, President Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan.”
Before arriving in Beijing on Wednesday, Trump used an address to the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, to deliver a stern message to China, North Korea’s biggest trade partner. Trump urged “responsible nations” to unite and stop supporting North Korea.
“You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept,” he said, calling on “every nation, including China and Russia,” to fully implement recent UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea.
Trump is expected to demand that China curtail its dealings with Pyongyang and expel North Korean workers. Trump has praised China for taking some steps against Pyongyang but urged them to do more, as administration officials believe the border between China and North Korea remains a trade corridor.
“I want to just say that President Xi — where we will be tomorrow, China — has been very helpful. We’ll find out how helpful soon,” Trump said Tuesday night in Seoul. “But he really has been very, very helpful. So China is out trying very hard to solve the problem with North Korea.”
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