Trump gets grand­est of tours

Marlborough Express - - WORLD -

CHINA: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­ceived royal treat­ment on his ar­rival in Bei­jing yes­ter­day as Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping har­nessed the glo­ries of im­pe­rial China to im­press his guest with the Com­mu­nist coun­try’s su­per­power sta­tus.

Trump and his wife Me­la­nia were whisked straight to the For­bid­den City, where Xi of­fered a per­sonal tour of China’s rich and an­cient history be­fore a ban­quet in the for­mer seat of em­per­ors, an hon­our not ex­tended to a visit­ing for­eign leader since the rev­o­lu­tion.

The show of cul­tural power, part of the ‘‘state visit-plus’’ re­cep­tion af­forded to Trump, was the pre­lude to for­mal, chal­leng­ing talks when Xi and Trump will tackle North Korea and trade.

Trump will seek to ca­jole his host to be tougher against Kim Jong Un’s nu­clear pro­gramme. Ear­lier, Trump told South Korea’s par­lia­ment that Kim must freeze his bal­lis­tic mis­siles pro­gramme and dis­man­tle his nu­clear weapons be­fore any en­gage­ment with the United States. The speech dulled hopes of an un­spec­i­fied ‘‘deal’’ which Trump had touted in pre­vi­ous days.

Trump will also urge Xi to ad­dress the trade im­bal­ance be­tween the world’s two largest economies. Xi, worried at the prospect of in­se­cu­rity on China’s bor­der with North Korea, is un­likely to budge on Kim but the two sides are likely to sign more trade deals.

As Trump sipped tea with Xi in the For­bid­den City, a group of Chi­nese and Amer­i­can busi­ness­men signed 19 deals worth US$9 bil­lion in life sciences, aero­space and smart man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Trump has been de­mand­ing re­cip­ro­cal trade with China in­stead of what he con­sid­ers ‘‘un­fair trade’’ in which the US had a US$347b deficit last year. Midyear he threat­ened a trade war by open­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion; Bei­jing re­sponded that a full-out trade war would hurt both sides.

With­out any struc­tural change, Bei­jing may al­low more Amer­i­can im­ports, buy­ing ex­tra Amer­i­can beef, to blunt the crit­i­cisms, al­though China is un­likely to open up state-con­trolled sec­tors such as bank­ing and health­care.

Ahead of the talks, Xi and Trump have sought to build a per­sonal friend­ship, as Xi did with Barack Obama, the pre­vi­ous Amer­i­can pres­i­dent.

In an un­usual move, Xi closed the For­bid­den City to tourists for the day, opened usu­ally se­cluded halls for his guests and served as a per­sonal guide to Trump and his wife, who walked the time­worn slabs and ad­mired the grandiose rooms that hosted the rise and fall of Chi­nese dy­nas­ties.

The Trumps were treated to Pek­ing opera per­for­mances and they also toured a work­shop where re­pair­men were restor­ing na­tional trea­sures such as paint­ings, cal­lig­ra­phy and clocks.

When Trump com­mented on China’s 5000 years of history, Xi said that the writ­ten history was about 3000 years. When Trump told Xi that Egyp­tian civil­i­sa­tion was older, at 8000 years, Xi said: ‘‘China is the only coun­try with an un­in­ter­rupted cul­ture that has been con­tin­u­ously passed on to today. We are the same peo­ple as from the past.’’

‘‘That’s good,’’ Trump said. Over tea at the Baoyun House, the only Western-style struc­ture in­side the For­bid­den Palace, the lead­ers ex­changed pleas­antries. Trump en­gaged in ‘‘grand­daugh­ter diplo­macy’’ when he pro­duced an iPad to show Xi and Peng Liyuan, his wife, video clips of Ara­bella Kush­ner, 6, singing Chi­nese songs and recit­ing an­cient Chi­nese po­ems. – The Times


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump shakes hands with opera per­form­ers at the For­bid­den City in Bei­jing, China.

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