World

Trump gets royal treatment in Beijing

China's Xi Jinping pulls out all the stops to welcome US President

US President Donald Trump has referred to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as the "king" of China.

So it is fitting that his first stop on his first state visit to Beijing was the sprawling imperial palace of the Ming and Qing emperors, the Forbidden City.

Mr Trump, his wife Melania, Mr Xi and his wife Madam Peng Liyuan drank tea at Baoyunlou, or Hall of Embodied Treasures, yesterday.

At tea, the two leaders exchanged pleasantries, saying they hoped the visit would achieve positive results.

Under a blue sky in Beijing, Mr Trump and his wife, accompanied by their Chinese hosts, toured the three main halls of the imperial complex: the Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony and Hall of Preserving Harmony. They also watched craftsmen repair relics.

When he entered the first artefacts room, Mr Trump came upon a "musical clock with country scene", a "gourd-shaped clock with rotating flowers", and a "clock with lifting tower", the White House said.

"Unbelievable," Mr Trump said of the tower, according to the release.

Mr Trump and his wife were treated to an opera performance on a stage that had not been used for 100 years, according to a CCTV news report, before dinner on the palace grounds.

Mr Trump's sumptuous first day at the Forbidden City is part of what the Chinese have promised will be a "state visit-plus", pulling out the stops to fete the American leader.

Also yesterday afternoon, China and the US signed business deals worth about US$9 billion (S$12.3 billion), said US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, adding that more would be signed today.

The hard work of Mr Trump's three-day visit starts today when the two sides try to iron out huge differences over the North Korea nuclear crisis and the enormous trade deficit the US has with China.

Mr Trump wants China to do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, which not only threaten the security of Asia but are also beginning to possibly threaten the US.

While it is starting to impose heavier sanctions on Pyongyang, Beijing is unwilling to sour its relations with the North further with heavier sanctions.

China is likely to make bigger concessions on trade, but ones that will not affect the economy too adversely, said Chinese expert on China-US relations Shi Yinhong of Renmin University.

The Chinese are hoping that the visit will be a success.

"If China and the US have good relations then many global issues can be resolved easily," said Professor Jia Qingguo of Peking University.

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