Xi gives Trump a Chinese history lesson
BEIJING — As President Xi Jinping led his US counterpart Donald J. Trump around Beijing’s Forbidden City on Wednesday, he made time to teach the American billionaire a bit of Chinese history.
Mr. Trump has been given the red carpet treatment on his three-day state visit, beginning with a tour of the ancient imperial palace where he sipped tea with Mr. Xi and showed the Chinese leader a video of his granddaughter singing in Mandarin.
Chinese media were quick to give the footage airtime, with the official Xinhua news agency broadcasting it on its Twitter account, though the platform is blocked in China.
The pomp and circumstance may be intended to allay some of Mr. Trump’s fervor on sticky issues such as China’s vast trade surplus with the US and continued relationship with its rogue neighbor, North Korea.
History was not expected to be on the list of talking points — at least until Mr. Trump mentioned he had heard that Chinese history went back 5,000 years and Mr. Xi stepped in to tell him more, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
“We have 3,000 years with a written language,” Mr. Xi said through a translator as they moseyed through the Forbidden City’s immense cobblestoned courtyards.
“I guess the older culture, they say, is Egypt with 8,000,” Mr. Trump retorted.
China is famously proud of its heritage, with schoolchildren learning early on that the country is one of the four great ancient civilizations.
“Egypt is a bit more ancient,” Mr. Xi admitted. “But the only continuous civilization to continue onwards is China.”
“We people are the original people, black hair, yellow skin, inherited onwards,” Mr. Xi laughed. “We call ourselves the descendants of the dragon.” “That’s great,” Mr. Trump said. It is not the first history rundown Mr. Xi has given the real estate mogul.
During the leaders’ first meeting at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Mr. Xi gave him a quick lesson on past Sino-Korean relations, which Mr. Trump told the
changed his thinking on the issue. Mr. Xi disabused him of his earlier opinion that Beijing could easily dispatch the North Korean threat, he said, stating: “After listening for ten minutes, I realized it’s not so easy.” —