Trump’s Visit to China Provides a Propaganda Bonanza

The photo reinforces the view that world leaders see Mr. Xi as a great leader, and that China is a superpower on par with the United States.

‘Descendants of the Dragon’

Mr. Xi telling Mr. Trump that China had the longest continuous civilization in history. Video by CCTV中文国际

A hallmark of Mr. Xi’s tenure has been a re-emphasis on traditional Chinese culture, after decades in which the Communist Party sought to bury much of the country’s history. Critics say Mr. Xi is selective in retelling history, and that he is seeking to counter the spread of foreign influences.

An offhand comment by Mr. Trump in the Forbidden City gave Mr. Xi a chance to promote his nationalist version of history.

Mr. Trump asked Mr. Xi if it was true that China’s history dated back 5,000 years, before adding that “I guess the oldest culture, they say, is Egypt,” with 8,000 years of history.

Mr. Xi interjected, saying that China had the longest continuous civilization in history. “We have the same black hair and yellow skin that we inherited,” Mr. Xi said. “We call ourselves descendants of the dragon.”

A clip of the exchange between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi soon went viral. So did a video of Mr. Trump’s granddaughter, Arabella Kushner, singing a Chinese song from 1953. Chinese internet users celebrated the video as another sign that Chinese culture had made it on the world stage.

Mr. Xi watched a video of Mr. Trump’s granddaughter singing a Chinese song from 1953. Video by CCTV中文国际

Poking Fun at President Trump

Photo

Some Chinese social media users mocked Mr. Trump for his tie and for staring at the ceiling during an opera performance.

Credit
WeChat

Mr. Trump was warmly received in China’s most prominent news outlets, which praised him as a pragmatic leader who, nevertheless, could be friendlier toward China. But in some forums online, the president was mocked, with social media users describing him as goofy, impulsive, clownish and cute.

On WeChat, China’s popular messaging app, users circulated posts analyzing the clothes worn by Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania. Some users described the president’s necktie as “shallow and exaggerated.”

A widely shared article delivered a lengthy analysis of Mr. Trump’s psyche, which suggested that flattery was the trick to winning him over.

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