On U.S. President Donald Trump’s 12-day Asia tour in November, he was served with state banquets in Japan, South Korea, and China. Though the menus were different, all were flavored with political seasonings.
On November 5, Trump arrived in Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe provided Americanstyle hamburgers for his lunch, made from beef imported from the United States. In July this year, Japan raised import tariffs on American beef, which has caused trade friction between Japan and the United States, so the reason that Mr. Abe used American beef for Trump’s lunch was self-evident.
Following suit, South Korea planned their state dinner so it would tailor to Trump’s tastes while exhibiting Korean features and demonstrating that the ties between South Korea and the United States are strong. Of the dishes prepared at Cheong Wa Dae, or the Blue House, the residential compound for South Korea’s president, the most eye-catching one was the Emergency Ration Kit, an appetizer including corn porridge, a yam and pumpkin mixture, shredded burdock root preserved with salt, and fried lotus roots. In the past, these foods were a staple in Korea, used to see people through hard times. Now, the ingredients have become popular as health food.
A Cheong Wa Dae official said that the appetizer symbolized how valuable the ties between South Korea and the United States are, and shows that South Korea’s economy has improved as a result of those ties.
One disputed dish on the menu was the shrimp, which was caught from an island (Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese) over which both Japan and South Korea claim ownership. In addition, a 90-year-old Korean female, Lee Rong-ju, was invited to attend the state banquet as a special guest. She was forced to be a “comfort woman” for Japanese soldiers in the Second World War. Trump embraced her at the banquet. Japan expressed their displeasure through a spokesman who said that South Korea should focus on cooperating with Japan to deal with North Korea instead of taking the opportunity to make such a political statement.
In an unprecedented move, the state banquet to welcome Trump to China was held in the residence of Qianlong, an emperor during the Qing Dynasty (1736-1795). This gave Trump a glimpse into the imperial lifestyle. To strike up an amicable atmosphere and demonstrate the close friendship between President Trump and the Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing displayed some videos filmed in Mar-a-Lago, where Xi Jinping was entertained by Trump during his visit to the United States in April this year, and included some videos of Trump’s granddaughter Arabella, who sang in Chinese and recited Chinese poems.
Trump spoke at the banquet saying that friendly relations between the United States and China are being promoted and that both sides should take the opportunity to promote global peace.
It is reported that Xi Jinping sent Trump a generous gift by signing a trade deal worth some US$250 billion. China will also allow foreign holders for the first time to own over 51 percent of the shares of Chinese banking institutions. Analysts believe that this is Xi’s move to reduce the trade deficit between China and the U.S., which was what Trump wanted to achieve on his trip to China.