U.S. President Donald Trump has told visitors that his Mar-a-Lago retreat is set up perfectly for foreign visits, but the Chinese side was initially hesitant when word came that Trump would like to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping there, according to administration officials.
Even after seeing images of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's back-slapping sessions with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in February, Chinese officials thought the oceanfront, Spanish-style club in Palm Beach, Florida, lacked the symbolic significance of the White House itself.
"They thought, no, it has to be the White House, the symbolism of that," a senior administration official told Reuters. "They were ultimately convinced that this was worth doing. It's unusual because most foreigners realize that being invited to the president's personal place is a big deal."