Donald Trump toured the Forbidden City with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday as the US president began the crucial leg of an Asian trip intended to build a global front against North Korea's nuclear threats.
After warning the North's "cruel dictatorship" in a speech in Seoul against testing the United States, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were met by Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan for tea at the former imperial palace.
The genial gathering will be followed on Thursday by a full day of thorny talks, with Trump looking to prod Xi into doing more to squeeze North Korea economically and to address China's massive trade surplus with the United States.
The Trump administration sees Beijing as the key to controlling Pyongyang, which depends on China for its economic survival and for 90 percent of its trade.
Earlier, Trump congratulated Xi on his reappointment as China's Communist Party chief, tweeting: "I very much look forward to meeting with President Xi who is just off his great political victory."
Trump's use of the term "political victory" for the outcome of last month's Communist Party congress was seen by analysts as a conciliatory move before tough talks.
"He's laying it on thick to put Xi in a good mood because he will have unpleasant things to tell him," said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, China politics specialist at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Xi has prepared an extravagant "state visit-plus" for Trump, who was greeted by children waving US and Chinese flags at the airport. He was treated to a Peking Opera performance at the Forbidden City.
Tweet inside Great Firewall
Xi said during the Forbidden City tour that he expected Trump's visit to yield "positive and important" results.
Trump later posted his first messages on Twitter since arriving China, breaking through the country's "Great Firewall" which blocks the social media website.
"THANK YOU for the beautiful welcome China! @FLOTUS Melania and I will never forget it!" wrote Trump, who also posted an AFP photo of his visit.
He also tweeted another warning against North Korea, saying Pyongyang "has interpreted America's past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. Do not underestimate us. AND DO NOT TRY US."
In addition to discussing North Korea, Trump plans to prod Xi over trade but the two leaders are also expected to oversee the signing of $20 billion in deals between US and Chinese companies.
North Korean cult
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