President Xi Jinping and Madam Peng welcomed the American first couple to the Forbidden City on the first day of their state visit to China. After a short tea break, the guests were taken to a Peking opera performance at the Pavilion of Pleasant Sounds, the largest opera theater in the Forbidden City.
In the evening, a dinner party was held at Jianfu Palace in their honor. The banquet time was extended from the scheduled 25 minutes to two full hours. Critics commented on Xi Jinping’s choice of dinner venue and its underlying implication. Jianfu Palace was the abode of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. Receiving Trump at the palace was seen as treating the U.S. president to the exclusive privilege level once enjoyed only by royalty.
The construction of Jianfu Palace started in 1742 during Qianlong’s reign. The total area of the original compound was about 4020 square meters. It was made up of more than 10 structures of various styles, with a flexible layout. Jianfu Palace was the essence of Han architecture. Of all the palace areas, the garden was Qianlong’s favorite. He loved it so much that he composed many poems about it and kept his treasures there.
Long after his reign, the garden continued to be used to house treasures. Renovation of Jianfu Palace began in 1999 and took five years to complete. With this work, the beauty of the compound was restored. Jianfu Palace remains closed to the public. It only serves to receive foreign VIPs, such as the U.S. President.
Translated by Cecilia and edited by Mikel Davis.