Yet China won warm praise from Trump, who professed his “very deep respect” for the country and the “noble traditions of its people.” During an unprecedented “state visit–plus,” as China’s foreign ministry put it, which included a 21-gun salute, a military parade, and a dinner in the Forbidden City, Trump stunned observers by saying he no longer faulted China for its trade policies.

“I don’t blame China,” he said during a joint appearance with President Xi Jinping, adding that he gives the country “great credit” for taking advantage of the U.S. on trade.

Such remarks support the view of Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University. Trump, he told me, is “an especially easy president for China to handle.”

“We are lucky,” he added.

Beijing seems to have concluded that the former casino mogul, like a high-rolling gambler, can be made to keep playing the house by showering him with VIP perks.