According to the Wall Street Journal:
In a private room in China’s Great Hall of the People in November, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sat with President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials as their hosts delivered plates of wilted Caesar salad.
Mr. Trump, in the midst of a five-country tour of Asia, grew concerned the untouched greens would offend the Chinese, according to people familiar with the matter. So he ordered Mr. Tillerson to start. “Rex,” he said, “eat the salad.”
Mr. Tillerson laughed off the remark, but the moment illustrated the at-times awkward relationship between the secretary of state and his boss that came to an abrupt end Tuesday when Mr. Trump announced in a tweet that he had replaced him.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, the press likes to portray Trump as so focused on himself that he hardly notices anything else. The remarks about the salad suggests a sensitivity to others’ perceptions that I believe Trump has and that many would find surprising.
The other point is that if Tillerson laughed off the request, I’m sure it infuriated Trump, because he was probably more than half serious. And eating a wilted salad is – I’m just guessing here – a bit less of a sacrifice for one’s country than others have made.
The Chinese are not quite famous for their Caeser’s salad – in fact, I’ve never seen a slice of bread or a leaf of salad in a Chinese restaurant – and were no doubt crestfallen that they’d got it wrong!
And now they’re claiming rights all over the South China Sea, ripping us off on trade – see what you did, Rex?