Donald Trump dines, emperor style, in the Forbidden City

Beijing: US President Donald Trump got to play king in the palace of the Chinese emperors, The Forbidden City, privately dining and watching Peking Opera with his host Xi Jinping and the two leaders wives.

Arriving in Beijing on Wednesday afternoon to clear skies, Mr Trump and his wife Melania were shown the rare honour of spending hours in the ancient enclave on a personal tour with Mr Xi and First Lady Peng Liyuan, sipping tea, and inspecting rare Chinese cultural treasures.

Mr Trump, who had last week tweeted that Mr Xi was now being called the "king of China", became the first foreign leader to dine, emperor style, in the Forbidden City.

Mr Trump played a video of his granddaughter Arabella Kushner singing in Mandarin to Mr Xi, who noted her Chinese was "A+" and she had become a star in China.

Chinese state media translated Arabella as addressing the Chinese leader and his wife as grandpa and grandma in the clip, which was circulated online.

China is seeking to build on the personal friendship that Mr Trump perceives has developed since his first meeting with Mr Xi at Mar-a-Lago in April, and in subsequent phone calls.

The flattery was interpreted by some analysts as a tactic to blunt the calls of China hawks in the White House administration, as the US investigates alleged China trade and intellectual property violations, and explores a new Indo-Pacific strategic grouping in the region to balance or contain China's rise.

The formalities of Mr Trump's visit won't begin until Thursday, in a series of government and business events at the Communist Party's more modern hallowed hall, The Great Hall of the People, on Tiananmen Square.

Tough issues top the US agenda for talks, North Korea and China's trade surplus with the United States.

China is seeking to avert a trade war threatened early in Mr Trump's administration. Mr Trump, in a speech to the South Korean parliament on Wednesday had pressed China to cut all trade ties with North Korea, beyond the tough new United Nations Security Council Sanctions that China says it has applied.

Mr Trump has been accompanied on the visit to Beijing by a large contingent of 28 US business executives, including those from Boeing, Goldman Sachs and chipmaker Qualcomm.

In a separate event in Beijing on Wednesday with the beleaguered US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, deals worth US$9 billion were signed with Chinese companies, including the Chinese e-commerce company JD.com committing to buy US $1.2 billion of US beef and pork.

A visit to the Great Wall and Beijing Zoo's panda house are expected on Friday.

This story Donald Trump dines, emperor style, in the Forbidden City first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.