BOCA RATON — When the Japanese prime minister visited South Florida, his wife and First Lady Melania Trump took a twirl around the Morikami Museum’s Japanese gardens west of Delray Beach.
Next week, the Chinese president will join President Donald J. Trump in Palm Beach County — which coincides with the last week of the Chinese Lantern Festival and a Chinese “diplomacy and cultural exchange” event both at Sunset Cove Amphitheater west of Boca Raton.
Will the Trumps or their foreign guests pay a visit to the southwestern-most corner of the county?
It’s too soon to tell, but the organizers of the Chinese Lantern Festival did emphasize in a press release that the final days of the 8-week festival fall in line with Trump’s planned visit.
And while Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump are meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Xi will be staying at the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Manalapan, the Palm Beach Post’s Alex Seltzer reports.
It’s a closer trek to Boca Raton from Manalapan.
The festival features 800 vibrantly decorated lanterns — handmade in China— that illuminate the Sunset Cove Amphitheater in the evening. The lanterns have been on display since Feb. 24.
There will be a closing reception, themed around diplomacy and cultural exchange, for the Chinese Lantern Festival at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 7, the day Trump is scheduled to arrive in Palm Beach County.
The reception nods to Nixon-era ping-pong diplomacy, a term that refers to the exchange of table tennis players between the United States and China in the 1970s in what morphed into an unlikely diplomatic move. The shared sport led to renewed dialogue between the two countries, and paved the path for President Richard Nixon’s China visit in 1972.
According to Chinese Lantern Festival organizers, some of the best table tennis players in the United States will be attending the closing reception, including Terese Terranova, a two-time para-Olympic gold medal winner and the president of the Broward County Table Tennis Club.