President Donald Trump’s whirlwind tour through Asia so far might be low on policy breakthroughs, but it’s been loaded with great photo ops.
Trump’s journey, which began about a week ago, has taken him on an intense trek through Japan, South Korea, China, and Vietnam, with the Philippines left to go. His main goals for this trip have been to push for a rebalancing in the trade relationship between the US and East Asia and to persuade the region to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program.
At this point, Trump hasn’t broken much new ground on those issues: His speech on North Korea from Seoul laid out some unattainable conditions for talks with Pyongyang, and on trade he has focused more on flashy business deals than the underlying factors contributing to trade deficits.
But the trip has been packed with revealing signs about Trump’s evolving outlook on the world — and how foreign leaders are maneuvering in order to shape it. In particular, world leaders are growing more adept at charming him with grand displays of flattery, and appear to be getting results. Here are some of the most striking photos from his trip so far:
Trump and Abe’s lovefest
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented Trump with white hats that say in embroidered gold thread, “Donald & Shinzo, Make Alliance Even Greater.” Abe has consistently gone above and beyond usual protocols to woo Trump — he made his way to Trump Tower to gift the president-elect with a $4,000 gold-plated golf club weeks after Trump’s election — and analysts believe he’s gotten more attention from Trump because of it.
Trump makes his case to South Korea
In Seoul, Trump delivered a speech about North Korea to the National Assembly. He sounded less fiery about war with Pyongyang than usual, but his demand that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons before talks start doesn’t seem to be a promising strategy.
China treats Trump like a king
China treated Trump and his wife Melania Trump to unusually elaborate welcoming ceremonies during their stay. Analysts say that the Chinese used grand displays of flattery to try to soften up Trump during negotiations over trade and North Korea, and Trump seemed to take notice — he tweeted three times about how impressed he was by the quality of the reception.
During his stay, Trump touted the two leaders’ “great chemistry” and told Xi earnestly, “You’re a very special man.” Trump also unexpectedly said that previous US administrations, not China, were to blame for the massive trade imbalance between the countries.
Trump takes a cue from China on how to handle press
During a joint press conference in Beijing, Trump broke with tradition and conceded to China’s demand that the two leaders take no questions from reporters. “The Chinese try this every time. It’s a test of will and principle. Letting them dictate press access is an embarrassing capitulation,” Jay Carney, former White House press secretary under the Obama administration, tweeted.
China loves Trump’s granddaughter
During a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Trump showed guests a video of his granddaughter Arabella Kushner singing and reciting poems in Mandarin. Apparently her Chinese is very good — she learned it from a Chinese nanny — and the video went viral.
Left-wing protesters in Manila took to the streets and burned banners with Trump’s image on them ahead of his visit to the Philippines. The groups decried his belligerent rhetoric toward North Korea and claimed that the Trump administration wants to build more military bases in the Philippines, which they oppose.
Trump and Putin get lots of face time
Trump spoke to Putin three times on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. Trump told reporters that Putin insisted to him that Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 presidential election. Trump then said, “I really believe” that Putin “means it.” In this photo they’re wearing traditional-style Vietnamese shirts that were provided by Vietnamese officials.
Asia makes big moves on trade without Trump
One of the most revealing images of Trump’s trip is one that he’s not in at all. When Trump pulled out of negotiations for the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership in January, it looked like the whole deal would collapse. Instead the remaining bloc of Pacific Rim nations announced on Saturday that they had agreed to move on without the US.
Here, Vietnam's Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh is shaking hands with Japan's Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi during a press conference about the newly revived deal — on the sidelines of a conference Trump was attending.