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Sound and fury — two days in Beijing

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An ‘incredible welcome ceremony’ for Trump but few results

Donald Trump enjoyed his treatment in Beijing. He changed the main image on his Twitter account to a photo of himself and Xi Jinping standing together with their wives, and tweeted the following on November 9:

15:08 Beijing time: President Xi, thank you for such an incredible welcome ceremony. It was a truly memorable and impressive display!

21:58 Beijing time: In the coming months and years ahead I look forward to building an even STRONGER relationship between the United States and China. 

Both tweets are accompanied by short videos that are similar in style and content to Xinhua News Agency productions.

What was the result of Trump’s two day stay in Beijing? It’s perhaps best told in a series of headlines, abridged for easy reading:

So the visit went smoothly and media reports talk of a bromance between Xi and Trump. But the bros may not be able to maintain the bonhomie:

  • The Economist says (paywall) that while Xi and Trump look friendly now, anti-U.S. feeling is stirring in China, and that “the anti-American strain now seems to run from the top of the Chinese state (Messrs Xi and Wang [Huning 王沪宁]) to the bottom (Xinhua and internet trolls).”
  • In the Washington Post, John Pomfret has published an open letter to Xi Jinping, which warns that “a backlash is brewing against your country in the United States, and it goes well beyond Trump,” and many of Pomfret’s colleagues, “even those from the Democratic Party, are in complete agreement with Trump’s former aide, Stephen K. Bannon, that the United States is in an economic war with China and that Americans have done far too much to facilitate your nation’s rise.”
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Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.