US, Chinese companies sign contracts during Trump visit

Trump Xi Jinping

Trump heaped praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping before touching down in Beijing, but he also used a speech in Seoul to urge China to do more to rein in its Cold War-era ally. The two men are arguably meeting at a low and a high point of their respective political careers.

The trip comes as Trump faces the lowest approval ratings for a U.S. president in seven decades, while Xi cemented his status as the most powerful Chinese leader in a generation at a Communist Party congress last month.

Trump's marathon Asian tour is one of the greatest exercises of his personal diplomacy since entering the Oval Office.

China is increasingly disenchanted with North Korea over its nuclear weapons development but remains wary of using its full economic leverage over its traditional ally.

But, he stressed, "this issue can not be solved all by China's self".

Great Fire co-founder Charlie Smith told the Press Association he hopes Trump will continue to tweet while in China. He seems to have entirely abandoned his plans to label China a currency manipulator.

Observers expect Beijing to go on a charm offensive, wooing the attention-sensitive, ego-conscious American leader with what is described as an unprecedented "state visit-plus" by Chinese officials and the media.

Trump and his wife Melania were whisked from Beijing airport - where they were met by China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, a key player in the outreach to Trump since he won election a year ago - straight to the Forbidden City.

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Xi said the girl deserved an "A+", Xinhua reported. Previous administrations rejected such overtures from Beijing, seeing them as an offer to split the world into Cold War-style zones of influence, with the United States withdrawing from Asia. China is a one-party system of authoritarian rule.

During bows, the children exclaimed "Welcome to China!"

"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. This is perceived as potentially risky for China's strategic interests, which depend on unrestricted foreign trade.

Russia, along with China and the European powers, has rejected Trump's demand to renegotiate the pact to curb Iran's ballistic missile program. USA exports to China rose 77 per cent from 2007 to 2016 but Washington reported a $347 billion trade deficit with China a year ago. The White House has recently announced its vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific", apparently sending a rallying cry for Australia and India to take a stand against rising Chinese clout.

US and European trade officials have complained for years that despite China's promises of opening, their companies face an imbalance in tariffs for market entry, intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and targeted rules that make doing business in China unfair compared with the access Chinese companies have overseas.

Chatting over cups of tea, Trump showed Xi a video of his granddaughter Arabella Kushner singing in Mandarin and reciting classical Chinese poetry, prompting Xi to compliment her performance as worthy of an "A+", Chinese state media said.

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 USA president's potential disruptions to one of the world's most consequential bilateral relationships.

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