This article originally appeared in The Guardian:
Donald Trump has saluted the “extraordinary elevation” of President Xi Jinping and compared him to a “king” on the eve of his trip to meet an exalted and emboldened leader now considered China’s most powerful since Mao.
Xi confirmed his absolute supremacy over China’s one-party state this week with the historic decision to enshrine his political thoughts in the Communist party’s constitution during a congress marking the end of his first term.
Party officials responded by showering adjectives of adulation on the man they say is making their nation great again, hailing Xi’s incisive, glorious, magnificent, visionary, pioneering and thrilling leadership.
Trump – who is scheduled to fly to Beijing on 8 November for a three-day visit – went almost as far on Wednesday. “Spoke to President Xi of China to congratulate him on his extraordinary elevation,” the US president tweeted, having refrained from weighing in on Asian affairs during Xi’s politically sensitive summit. “Also discussed NoKo [North Korea] and trade, two very important subjects!”
In a second tweet Trump said he was looking forward to “what will hopefully be a historic trip!”.
Trump continued his charm offensive in an interview with Fox Business Network. “He’s a powerful man,” he told anchor Lou Dobbs. “Now some people might call him the King of China – but he’s called president.”
Experts say Trump wants to butter up Xi before trying to strike a deal over North Korea during his visit.
“It’s classic Trump,” said Paul Haenle, a veteran US diplomat who advised both George W Bush and Barack Obama on China. “Trump’s comments play very well to a Chinese domestic audience. I think ultimately what he is trying to do is preserve that good personal rapport with Xi which he thinks he will be able to do more with from a negotiating standpoint.”
This post originally appeared on Breitbart