Trump’s visit is going brilliantly… for Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping must be barely able to believe his luck.

Last month he proclaimed the start of a new era of Chinese power, and had his political thought enshrined in the Communist Party's constitution.

Now he is hosting an American president who seems to be falling over himself with praise and gratitude.

::All-powerful Xi Jinping proclaims 'new era' of 'Chinese dream'

"My feeling toward you is an incredibly warm one," Donald Trump told the Chinese leader on Thursday.

"There's great chemistry. It is a very, very great honour to be with you."

This does not seem to work both ways.

Image:A strong Chinese military welcomes the US President state visit

While President Trump calls Xi a "very special man" and emphasises his personal admiration, President Xi tends to focus on the special nature of the China-US relationship, peppering his comments with the buzzwords beloved of Chinese officials, such as "win-win co-operation", "mutual benefit" and "mutual respect".

These fawning displays of flattery fit perfectly with the narrative Xi is pushing here at home, where he claims to be realising the great Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, or to put it another way, making China great again.

That Chinese dream involves a strong military, and reclaiming the country's past status as a global superpower.

As he presents it, Mao Zedong brought the country together and founded the People's Republic, Deng Xiaoping set them on the path to getting rich, now Xi Jinping is making them strong.

As the United States appears to be voluntarily withdrawing from its global leadership role by walking away from international agreements and putting 'America First', President Xi is only too happy to be seen to be stepping into that void.

India has been home to the Tibetan spiritual head the Dalai Lama since he fled China in 1959 - another cause of tension
Video:Dalai Lama takes Trump to task over climate change and 'America First'

He does this by proclaiming China's leading role in the fight against climate change and investing hundreds of billions of dollars across Asia and beyond, through his new Silk Road initiative.

What better way to illustrate China's rise under Xi than the so-called leader of the free world arriving in Beijing to pay his respects to the man he recently called "the king of China".

Gone are the days when China was treated as the sick man of Asia.

::China says modern-day Silk Road will be 'project of the century'

Now its president sits down with the US as an equal at the head of what he portrays as an equally powerful, arguably superior political system.

The domestic turmoil that has accompanied the Trump presidency has provided the Chinese Communist Party with a timely example of the chaos of western liberal democracy, which it gleefully compares with the stability of one-party rule.

Perhaps we should also mention the other great thing for Xi Jinping about Donald Trump, which is what he is not talking about.

Liu Xiaobo
Video:Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo dies

Despite the relentless crackdown Xi is presiding over on civil society here: the death earlier this year of a Nobel Peace Prize winner in custody and the disappearance of his widow who had asked to be allowed to travel to the United States.

As well as the ongoing detention and alleged torture of numerous lawyers and activists, under President Trump there is no public price to pay.

::Where is 'free' widow of Chinese Nobel winner?

Standing alongside President Xi, he made a glancing reference to individual rights and the rule of law in his press statement on Thursday, but opted not to raise the issue of human rights.

We're told they had a "frank exchange" about it away from the cameras instead. As for that press statement – it was conducted without questions from the press.

We were invited to be there, to record the two men reading their prepared remarks, as Donald Trump became the first US president in a quarter of a century not to take questions during a first state visit to China.

The White House press secretary said this was at the insistence of the Chinese side.

his picture taken on October 10, 2017 shows a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping at an exhibition showcasing China's progress in the past five years at the Beijing Exhibition Centre
Image:Chinese President Xi Jinping's portrait shown at the communist party's congress

So now Xi Jinping has an American counterpart who not only showers him with praise, but declines to raise human rights issues in public, and appears to disdain the freedom of the press as much as he does, while providing an ongoing argument for the necessity of Communist Party rule.

Donald Trump's visit to China is going brilliantly for Xi Jinping.

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