China's Xi fetes Trump on first day of Beijing trip

Beijing may be calm before the Trump trade storm

Beijing may be calm before the Trump trade storm

Trump is expected to seek ways to reduce the huge USA trade deficit in his discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his first, three-day state visit to Beijing.

Trump may find himself on the back foot, says Matthew Pennington of the Associated Press.

As they exited Air Force One, Trump and first lady Melania Trump were met by Chinese and American dignitaries, soldiers standing stiffly at attention, a band playing martial music and smartly attired children waving miniature Chinese and American flags while chanting, "Welcome, welcome". Mr. Xi said Mr. Trump's visit would yield "positive and important" results, Xinhua reported.

Trump also gave a preview to his talks with Xi.

Lavishing the "imperial treatment" on Trump and giving him the chance to bond with a fellow self-styled political strongman is just one way in which China is dealing with the US president's potential disruptions to one of the world's most consequential bilateral relationships.

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Trump is expected to play the same card when he visits Beijing today after his stop in South Korea.

The US president's visit comes amid the increasing threats from North Korea, a troubled geopolitical ally of China.

Xi prepared an extravagant "state visit-plus" for Trump, who has softened his strongly anti-China election-era rhetoric since their first meeting at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April.

On Wednesday, Trump mischaracterised the nature of Xi's success at the Communist Party Congress, writing on Twitter that he was looking forward "to meeting with President Xi who is just off his great political victory". At least, he notes, the two countries' presidents "have established a good working relationship".

"China had to realize that Trump needed to learn about China", he says, "and during this learning process, we had to stay cool and patient".

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The Trump administration has responded by framing his 11-day, five-nation Asia trip as a broadening of U.S. policy in the "Indo-Pacific" region.

But he added that he remains concerned about a trade imbalance in China's favour and vowed "the United States will take very, very strong action" on pushing Beijing for greater market access for USA firms. At the same time, Xi has tightened his grip on power to become China's strongest leader in decades. "Why not?" the White House official said.

"I think we can say that so far, our measures have been relatively successful", comments Wu Xinbo with the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

The country has banned Facebook, the world's most popular social media platform, since 2009. The president has said publicly he wants China to narrow its multibillion-dollar trade surplus with the United States but has yet to say what he might propose to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But some USA experts said it is unlikely Xi will make concessions on issues involving free speech even if Trump does raise them.

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