Trump welcomes ‘friend’ China’s Xi for talks

  • Media captionPresident Trump: “We’ve had a long discussion already and so far I have gotten nothing!”

US President Donald Trump has welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to his Florida resort for their first summit.

Mr Trump said the two men had “developed a friendship” as they sat for dinner at his Mar-a-Lago retreat.

The American leader is expected to press his counterpart for action on North Korea, and Mr Xi to seek assurances on Taiwan.

Mr Trump has said the summit “will be a very difficult one”. Last year he accused China of “raping the US”.

During the election campaign, he said massive trade deficits and job losses could no longer be tolerated.

But at dinner on Thursday, it was all smiles, with the leaders’ two wives, folk singer Peng Liyuan and First Lady Melania Trump also in attendance.

The visit will conclude with a working lunch on Friday.

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But there is unlikely to be any golf. While Mr Trump is fond of hitting the fairway, Mr Xi’s administration has cracked down on the sport in an anti-corruption drive.

Trump and Xi at dinnerImage copyrightAFP
All smiles at dinner, but the real talks are on Friday
The Mar-a-Lago ClubImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
The Mar-a-Lago Club is known as the “Winter White House”

All eyes will be on body language between the two leaders – one a softly spoken Communist Party apparatchik and the other a brash Manhattan property tycoon.

BBC China Editor Carrie Gracie says observers can expect an unpredictable power play from the very first handshake.

The Chinese are reportedly wary that the mercurial US president could embarrass Mr Xi, who faces a party congress in November, by some breach of protocol.

“Ensuring President Xi does not lose face is a top priority for China,” one Chinese official told Reuters news agency.

The Republican president’s blue-collar supporters will hope he can translate his China-bashing election rhetoric into concrete gains for American manufacturing workers.

Some protesters lined the streets on Thursday to voice their opposition to China’s policy in the South China Sea.

Go to BBC to read more.