Trump tri­umphs in Asia — me­dia talks hand­shakes, gold­fish

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY JOSEPH CURL Joseph Curl has cov­ered pol­i­tics for 25 years, in­clud­ing 12 years as White House cor­re­spon­dent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twit­ter @josephcurl.

Pres­i­dent Trump just com­pleted a 12-day trip to Asia, his first as the most pow­er­ful man in the world. By all ac­counts, the trip was a re­sound­ing tri­umph. Strike that. By all ac­counts OVER THERE, the trip was a re­sound­ing suc­cess.

Thou­sands in China flocked to see the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent, wav­ing tiny U.S. flags and snap­ping pic­tures — even of his empty limou­sine. So wowed were the Chi­nese that its lead­ers in­vited Mr. Trump — a fierce critic of U.S.-Sino trade im­bal­ances — to dine in a palace in Bei­jing’s For­bid­den City, the first for­eign leader be­stowed such an honor in mod­ern China.

Thou­sands more were de­lighted with a video in which Mr. Trump’s 6-year-old grand­daugh­ter per­formed sev­eral Chi­nese songs and re­cited po­etry — in Man­darin. The stylish first lady Me­la­nia Trump was the talk of the town as she vis­ited the Great Wall and con­tin­ued to make Amer­ica, as she has done from the out­set, look great again.

But so what, right? What did Trump ac­tu­ally achieve?

“Pres­i­dent Trump and his Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Xi Jin­ping, on Thurs­day an­nounced more than $250 bil­lion in deals be­tween the two coun­tries across in­dus­tries like en­ergy, tech­nol­ogy and avi­a­tion,” CNN re­ported.

Well, so there’s that.

Mr. Trump bounced across Asia in a blur, hit­ting Ja­pan, South Korea, China, Viet­nam and the Philip­pines. For lead­ers there, it was the first time they came face to face with the new U.S. pres­i­dent — and he’s an im­pos­ing man, all 6 feet 2 inches of him. He glad-hand­ing lead­ers through­out two ma­jor eco­nomic sum­mits, flat­tered the as­sem­bled heads of state and took in cul­tural events, like mu­si­cal per­for­mances and dances.

And the lead­ers swooned. In Ja­pan, Mr. Trump played golf with Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, who gave him a hat that said “Don­ald & Shinzo, make al­liance even greater.” The PM even served Mr. Trump a cheese­burger for lunch, made with U.S. beef.

“I be­lieve that there has never been such close bonds in­ti­mately con­nect­ing the lead­ers of both na­tions as we do now in the his­tory of Ja­pan-U.S. al­liance of more than half a cen­tury,” Mr. Abe said.

On his next stop in South Korea, Mr. Trump was greeted by thou­sands of chil­dren wav­ing U.S. flags in an ex­trav­a­gant wel­com­ing cer­e­mony. In less than one year, South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in said, “you are al­ready mak­ing great progress on mak­ing Amer­ica great again, as you have promised on the cam­paign trail.”

In Seoul, Mr. Trump got South Korea’s back when he warned its neigh­bor to the north to step off. Mr. Trump said any at­tack on the United States or its al­lies would be a “fa­tal mis­cal­cu­la­tion” and even spoke di­rectly to Kim Jong-un, say­ing: “North Korea is not the par­adise your grand­fa­ther en­vi­sioned. It is a hell that no per­son de­serves.”

In Viet­nam for an­other Asian sum­mit, Mr. Trump said he would help ar­bi­trate the South China Sea dis­pute, and again made his case for “fair and re­cip­ro­cal” trade be­tween the U.S. and Asian na­tions. In the Philip­pines, strong­man Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte sang Mr. Trump a love song that in­cluded the words: “You are the light in my world, a half of this heart is mine.” Talk about a big smooch. Mean­while, the U.S. me­dia tried to play “gotcha’” through­out the trip. Most egre­giously, CNN edited a video to make it look like Mr. Trump — the boor­ish and im­pa­tient Amer­i­can — dumped a whole bowl of fish food into a pond while feed­ing gold­fish with Mr. Abe. In fact, Mr. Abe had done the ex­act same things sec­onds be­fore.

And when Mr. Trump was part of an awk­ward hand­shake in Manila with for­eign lead­ers, The Washington Post and other out­lets used a photo that made Trump look fool­ish — with The Post say­ing it was “re­venge” for the White House keep­ing pho­tog­ra­phers out of an­other event.

In the end, Mr. Trump’s trip to Asia was a sur­pris­ing suc­cess. He stayed on mes­sage, has a po­lite guest, and lis­tened in­tently to the con­cerns of the other lead­ers.

But you wouldn’t know that if you’re only source of news is the main­stream me­dia.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Thou­sands in China flocked to see Pres­i­dent Trump and waved tiny U.S. and Chi­nese flags. Lead­ers were wowed by Mr. Trump and in­vited him in­side the For­bid­den City.

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