To say President Trump and Melania are getting the “royal treatment” while in China is not an understatement.
On their first visit to the communist regime, Trump and the First Lady were given a rare dinner inside the legendary Forbidden City, an honor not given to any foreign leader since the founding of the People’s Republic seven decades ago.
Trump and Melania arrived Wednesday afternoon in Beijing on their third leg of the President’s two-week tour. After landing, the couple toured the Forbidden City with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, The Daily Caller reports.
The Forbidden City is a massive palace complex and was the residence of the imperial family for hundreds of years. At the site, Presidents Trump, Xi and their spouses enjoyed an opera performance and dinner together. This is very different from the greeting President Obama received on his farewell tour.
At his arrival last September, China delivered a calculated snub of the president, not even giving him a staircase to disembark from his plane. Mexico’s former ambassador to China said the treatment of Obama was a deliberate snub.
“It’s a snub. It’s a way of saying: ‘You know, you’re not that special to us.’ It’s part of the new Chinese arrogance. It’s part of stirring up Chinese nationalism. It’s part of saying: ‘China stands up to the superpower’,” Jorge Guajardo said. “It’s part of saying: ‘And by the way, you’re just someone else to us.’ It works very well with the local audience.”
By contrast, after studying the new president, Xi and his minions determined that Trump needed to be treated differently.
“Xi is going to treat Trump almost like an emperor,” Ming Wang, a professor of government and politics at George Mason University, told CNN, arguing that China “will give Trump an exceptional reception, essentially they’ll try to make Trump happy.”
Hundreds of Chinese government analysts worked nonstop for months studying every detail on President Trump in preparation for his state visit to China this week.
Whether Trump will be swayed by such treatment remains to be seen. The president is expected to press China on issues concerning bilateral trade and North Korea, two huge problems impacting the bilateral relationship. While Trump has spoken highly of China’s president, the country’s strongest leader in decades, on numerous occasions, his administration has not hesitated to antagonize the Chinese on matters impacting U.S. strategic national interests.
It remains to be seen whether talks between Trump and Xi will be productive or largely ceremonial.
“The Chinese government know who they’re dealing with,” said Beijing-based historian Jeremiah Jenne. “It’s another in a long line of fairly shrewd moves by the Chinese government and something (Trump is) going to be very impressed with.”
Originally constructed in the early 1400s, the Forbidden City is considered to be among the most important architectural and cultural monuments inside China. Designed to reflect the majesty of the emperor, the vast walled complex consists of over 90 palaces and courtyards of varying significance.
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