President Trump, Melania Trump welcomed by China's Xi at Forbidden City

BEIJING (Reuters) - With lavish pageantry and an uncharacteristic personal flourish, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday rolled out a red carpet welcome for U.S President Donald Trump at the Forbidden City, the ancient home of China's emperors.

While North Korea and trade are set to dominate the formal part of the visit, which ends on Friday, China has been keen to show the importance it puts on Trump's visit, the first by a foreign leader since the end of a key Communist Party congress last month where Xi cemented his power.

Trump and his wife Melania were whisked from Beijing airport - where they were met by China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, a key player in the outreach to Trump since he won election a year ago - straight to the Forbidden City.

Chatting over cups of tea, Trump showed Xi a video of his granddaughter Arabella Kushner singing in Mandarin and reciting classical Chinese poetry, prompting Xi to compliment her performance as worthy of an "A+", Chinese state media said.

Click through to see interactions between the American and Chinese first couples:

21 PHOTOS
President Trump, Melania Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping
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President Trump, Melania Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping
U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and Xi Jinping, China's president, greet attendees waving American and Chinese national flags during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. The White House expects to announce upwards of $250 billion in business deals in China this week, an administration official said -- exactly the sort of U.S. jobs-based diplomacy that Trump�likes to deliver when traveling abroad. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China� President Xi Jinping and China� First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave after an opera performance at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania enjoy an opera performance with China's President Xi Jinping at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping and China's First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump looks at first lady Melania Trump next to Chinese President Xi Jinping as they tour the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China?s President Xi Jinping and China?s First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping tour the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China November 8, 2017. Looking on is Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan at left and U.S. first lady Melania Trump at right. REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping and China's First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania and China's President Xi Jinping pose with opera performers at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping and China's First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump tours the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City in Beijing on November 8, 2017. US President Donald Trump toured the Forbidden City with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on November 8 as he began the crucial leg of an Asian tour intended to build a global front against North Korea's nuclear threats. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andy Wong (Photo credit should read ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive on Air Force One in Beijing on November 8, 2017. US President Donald Trump arrived in Beijing on November 8 for the critical leg of his Asia tour to drum up an uncompromising, global front against the nuclear weapons ambitions of the 'cruel dictatorship' in North Korea. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / THOMAS PETER (Photo credit should read THOMAS PETER/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump takes part in a welcoming ceremony with China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
U.S. President Donald Trump takes part in a welcoming ceremony at the Great hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
U.S. President Donald Trump takes part in a welcoming ceremony with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Xi Jinping, China's president, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump look on during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. The White House expects to announce upwards of $250 billion in business deals in China this week, an administration official said -- exactly the sort of U.S. jobs-based diplomacy that Trump�likes to deliver when traveling abroad. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Xi Jinping, China's president, left, gestures while standing next to U.S. President Donald Trump, during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. The White House expects to announce upwards of $250 billion in business deals in China this week, an administration official said -- exactly the sort of U.S. jobs-based diplomacy that Trump�likes to deliver when traveling abroad. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 09: The convoy of US President Donald Trump makes its way through Tiananmen Square before the welcome ceremony on November 9, 2017 in Beijing, China. At the invitation of Chineses President Xi Jinping, U.S President Donald Trump is to pay a state visit to China from November 8 to 10. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Xi said he hoped Arabella would visit China soon, noting that she was already a "child star" in China, the official Xinhua news agency said.

A video of Arabella reciting a Chinese poem went viral on Chinese social media shortly after Trump's election last year.

In another break from precedent, Xi himself gave the Trumps a tour of the imperial treasures of the Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage site cleared of tourists for the day, before the two first couples watched Chinese opera and an acrobatic display.

"That's something!" Trump said after the show, as he and Xi walked away. "We're having a great time."

China had widely been expected to pull out all the stops for Trump, who has pressed it to do more to control its neighbor North Korea, and resolve a yawning trade gap with the United States.

The ceremony on Trump's arrival at Beijing's airport on Wednesday was also more elaborate than usual, with the Trumps met by a marching band and soldiers standing at attention. Smartly dressed children waving miniature Chinese and American flags jumped up and down as Trump's motorcade passed.

In another rare, if not unprecedented step, Trump's official ceremonial welcome at the Great Hall of the People on Thursday will be broadcast live on national television, state broadcaster CCTV said.

While the sprawling palace complex in the center of Beijing is a regular stop for visiting dignitaries, it is rare for a Chinese leader to provide a personal escort, confirmation of the "state visit-plus" treatment that China had promised for Trump.

RELATED: Trump meeting other world leaders

11 PHOTOS
President Donald Trump meeting other world leaders
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President Donald Trump meeting other world leaders
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) is greeted by greets U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump pose for a photograph before attending dinner at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump looks down at a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill while meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump (R) at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, left, speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump, during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 17, 2017. Merkel, who is running for a fourth term in Germanys election in September, plans to explain her view of the mutual advantages of free trade during her talks with Trump on Friday, according to German officials. Photographers: Pat Benic/Pool via Bloomberg
King Abdullah II of Jordan, left, looks towards U.S. President Donald Trump after shaking hands during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. The talks with the Jordanian monarch are expected to focus on other regional issues, including Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt's president, during a meeting inside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, April 3, 2017. Trump�said Monday his buildup of the U.S. military would help El-Sisi�fight terrorism as the two met at the White House for their first summit of the Trump presidency. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
US President Donald Trump meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi in the Oval Office in the White House on March 20, 2017, in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MOLLY RILEY (Photo credit should read MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017. President Donald Trump entered a second day of talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday hoping to strike deals on trade and jobs after an overnight show of strength in Syria. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump meets Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark outside the West Wing of the White House March 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is hosting Prime Minister Rasmussen with an Oval Office meeting. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Philip Wen and Steve Holland; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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