Xi gives Trump a Chi­nese his­tory les­son

Business World - - THEWORLD - Jour­nal Wall Street

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.” —

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