Beijing: US President Donald Trump toured the Forbidden City with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday as he began the crucial leg of an Asian tour intended to build a global front against North Korea’s nuclear threats.
Welcomed to China with an outsized dose of pomp and pageantry, Mr Trump pronounced himself wowed by Beijing’s lavish greeting.
A visit sure to include tough negotiations on multiple policy fronts began with a full-on display of diplomatic niceties: The President and Mrs Trump were greeted at the airport by dozens of children who waved US and Chinese flags and jumped up and down. The couple sipped tea with Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, and received a private tour of the historic Forbidden City, Beijing’s ancient imperial palace, including a performance by young opera students before dinner.
Mr Trump said afterward that he’s “having a great time” in China and at one point threw open his arms and appeared to exclaim “wow.”
The welcome party is set to be followed on Thursday by a full day of thorny talks, with Mr Trump looking to prod Mr Xi into doing more to squeeze North Korea economically and to address China’s massive trade surplus with the United States.
The Trump administration sees Beijing as the key to controlling Pyongyang, which depends on China for its economic survival and for 90 percent of its trade.
Before arriving in Beijing on Wednesday, Mr Trump used an address to the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, to deliver a stern message to China, North Korea’s biggest trade partner. Mr Trump urged “responsible nations” to unite and stop supporting North Korea.
“You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept,” he said, calling on “every nation, including China and Russia,” to fully implement recent UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea.
Mr Trump is expected to demand that China curtail its dealings with Pyongyang and expel North Korean workers. “I want to just say that President Xi — where we will be tomorrow, China — has been very helpful. We’ll find out how helpful soon,” Mr Trump had said before travelling to Beijing.