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Chief tweeter vs Great Wall

America's tweeter-in-chief is set to face off bit-to-bit against China's "great firewall."

President Donald Trump's arrival in Beijing on Wednesday will serve as a test of reach for his preferred 140-character communications tool.

The White House is declining to comment on the president's ability to tweet in China or the precautions being taken to protect his communications in the heavily monitored state. It's about more than cybersecurity. Knowing the president's penchant for showmanship, some aides are trying to build up social media suspense before Air Force One is wheels-down in Beijing.

Spoiler alert: The American president will get his way. Multiple officials familiar with the procedures in place but unauthorized to discuss them publicly said the president will, in fact, be able to tweet in China.

Twitter is blocked for domestic users in China, but foreigners have had success accessing the social media service while using data roaming services that connect to their home cellular networks.

For an American president, it's not that straightforward. Securing the president's communications — and tweets — in China requires satellites, sophisticated electronics and the work of hundreds on multiple continents.

Trump, like his predecessor, has a secure cellphone, though he uses it more for tweeting than phone calls. He's sent at least two dozen tweets in the first four days of his trip to Asia. Developed in collaboration between the National Security Agency and Secret Service, it has some regular functionality disabled to protect from hacking. But China poses a distinct challenge: Merely turning it on there is a security risk, as China's cellular network is believed to be entirely compromised by its security services.



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