Donald Trump

Trump leaps China’s ‘Great Firewall’ to give Twitter account a Forbidden City makeover

US president continues tweeting despite the service being blocked on the mainland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 10:53am

At the end of his first day in Beijing, US President Donald Trump changed his Twitter banner to a photo of the world’s two most powerful first couples in Beijing’s Forbidden City.

In the photo, a smiling Trump stands before a stage, surrounded by the elaborately dressed performers of the Peking opera works he had just watched, flanked by his wife Melania and Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan.

The question of whether Trump would use Twitter – his favourite communications platform – from China has attracted much attention in the run-up to his trip.

The popular microblogging site is blocked by China’s infamous “Great Firewall”.

But the US president was apparently granted unfiltered access to the free internet world outside. He has posted five tweets since arriving in China, including three expressing his gratitude for the “beautiful welcome” he received.

“President Xi, thank you for such an incredible welcome ceremony. It was a truly memorable and impressive display!” he wrote in his latest tweet posted on Thursday afternoon, referring to the pomp and ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in the morning.

Earlier in his Asia trip, he tweeted his gratitude to South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the “beautiful welcoming ceremony” and posted a video of himself playing golf in Japan, calling Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama “two wonderful people”.

But he has expressed his thanks to Xi more frequently.

“On behalf of @FLOTUS Melania and I, THANK YOU for an unforgettable afternoon and evening at the Forbidden City in Beijing, President Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan. We are looking forward to rejoining you tomorrow morning!” his first Tweet from China read.

The imperial compound, one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, was cleared of all public visitors for the day.

After touring its three main halls, the two first couples watched three Peking opera performances in the Changyinge Pavilion, which once served as the exclusive theatre for royal celebrations in imperial China.

One of the performances featured the Monkey King, the rebellious, mischievous main character of the 16th century Chinese classic Journey to the West.

At the end of the show, a group of children who took part in the performance shouted to Trump: “Welcome to China! I love you!”

The show apparently made quite an impression on the US president.

“That’s something!” Trump said after the show, according to Reuters. “We’re having a great time,” he was quoted as saying as he and Xi walked away.