China-US relations

Donald Trump tweets from Beijing about his ‘unforgettable afternoon’ with Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan

US president gets around the ‘Great Firewall’ to send his first Twitter message from Chinese soil

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 November, 2017, 11:13pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 10:23am

US President Donald Trump sent his first tweet from China on Wednesday evening, despite the service usually being blocked in the country.

“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!,” he tweeted at 10.27pm.

Trump sent the message as he shared a report by Agence France-Presse about his visit to the former imperial compound on his first day in the country.

The tweet was his first in 10 hours, with the last one sent as he was about to leave Seoul for Beijing, his third stop on a 12-day Asia-Pacific trip.

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“Leaving South Korea now heading to China. Looking very much forward to meeting and being with President Xi!” the earlier message said.

Trump will spend three days in China on his first visit as US president.

Twitter, which limits messages to 280 characters, is Trump’s favourite social media platform, and he has used it for everything from publicising state policy to personal rants.

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It was unclear how he managed to use it in China, although a White House official said earlier that nothing could stop Trump tweeting.

“The president will tweet whatever he wants. That’s his way of communicating directly with the American people. Why not?” the official said on the flight to Beijing.

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“I’m sure we’ve got the gear aboard this airplane to make it happen. But it is noteworthy that none of the major Western platforms for social media are even allowed to operate in China,” he said.

China has tightened its control over the internet this year and has made unauthorised VPN service providers – which help people to get round the “Great Firewall of China” – illegal.