Speed Reads

Trump in Asia

Asian leaders have spared no expense to flatter Trump during his visit

Either Asian leaders really like President Trump or they've learned that he likes and isn't embarrassed by immoderate amounts of flattery. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rolled out an elaborate welcome ceremony at Akasaka Palace, partnered him with a golf champion for a round at Japan's top course, gave him a MAGA-inspired hat, and suggested that Trump was his "favorite guy." South Korea introduced Trump as "leader of the world," welcomed him to the presidential residence with joyously shouting children and colorfully costumed guards, and President Moon Jae-in told Trump that he was "already making great progress on making America great again."

"They are not ignorant that this is a president who is particularly responsive to flattery," Lindsey Ford of Washington's Asia Society Policy Institute told The Associated Press, adding that China would "absolutely go over the top" trying to stroke Trump's ego.

That started at the airport, where Trump was met by Chinese and American dignitaries, a phalanx of soldiers at attention, and flag-waving children yelling "welcome!" "Heads of state are usually given a low-key reception at the airport," AP notes, "with the real pomp and circumstance reserved for arrivals at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing." Trump got that, too, plus a private tour of the Forbidden City by President Xi Jinping, an outdoor opera, and gleeful children shouting: "Welcome to China! I love you!"

Trump was clearly impressed with the pomp, but he was also "a cooperative partner for Beijing's sweeping efforts to control the message of his heavily choreographed visit to China," AP reports. Trump and Xi took no questions Thursday at an event billed as a news briefing, at China's insistence, and Chinese censors excised or blocked comments about Trump from China's irreverent social media forums.