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Freezing in the Forbidden City


President Obama during his tour of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

By Anne E. Kornblut
BEIJING -- President Obama took a speed tour through the Forbidden City on Tuesday, braving freezing temperatures to visit the ancient imperial palace during his first-ever visit to China.

Obama made it through the vast complex -a seemingly endless succession of outdoor courtyards that make up one of the world's largest surviving palace compounds -- in just over half an hour, according to reporters who were allowed to accompany him part of the way.

He sandwiched the sightseeing in between a bi-lateral meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao and a state dinner Tuesday night.

Unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush (who once whizzed through Russia's Hermitage Museum in two hours), Obama has generally been an enthusiastic foreign visitor, touring the pyramids and Hagia Sophia on previous trips. But the weather in China has been foreboding, and the president, like the entourage accompanying him, is still grappling with the jet lag that comes with a 13-hour time difference.

After touring the Forbidden City palace complex, Obama said he hoped to bring his daughters back to the site someday. He is scheduled to see the China's Great Wall on Wednesday.

By Anne Kornblut  |  November 17, 2009; 5:35 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Barack Obama , Obama Abroad  
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Comments

My compliments Mr. Obama dressed appropiately. Typical American look short jacket replacing the long European Coat the Chinese opted for a century or so ago. Nice, "panosh", good feeling. Now had he used a close cropped cap to keep the noggin warm it would have become the World's favorite wear since the people of the World Love Obama.
Now, if Obama was something better than what he has choosen to be. It is sad to see our second black President(Bill Clinton being declared the First) come on the scene as a Marxist. It is very sad. Instaed of putting America first he has put his own masters first.

Posted by: jackolantyrn356 | November 21, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama doesn't have an overcoat? He needs a babysitter along to help with protocol, and not another of his amateurs.

Posted by: tnvret | November 17, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

a little too cold to be talking about global warming.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | November 17, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

A lot of comments here blaming Obama for the Bush/Cheney economic disaster.

These are the same folks who proudly talk of no terrorist attacks from Sept. 11, 2001 to the end of Bush's horrendous Presidency.

How curious, though, that they don't talk about 9/11 attack on Bush/Cheney's watch. Have they conveniently forgotten Condi Rice testifying before Congress that she had received an intel memo from CIA/FBI on Aug.6, 2001 titled, "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike In US" and took no action?

Weren't Bush, Cheney and Rice busy planning the invasion of Iraq while ignoring intel warnings about a terrorist attack on us?

Wasn't the US economy crumbling while Bush and Cheney were rewarding their wealthy friends with tax breaks and no-bid contracts?

Why were our friends and neighbors drowning and starving in New Orleans while Bush was playing a guitar at a fundraiser, Rice was shopping for shoes in New York and Cheney was on vacation and groused that he was forced to cut it short?

These dittoheads and teabaggers and others commenting here are a danger to our country. They would rather see total meltdown of economy than admit Obama is trying to undo the damage brought by Bush and Cheney.

They are the dregs of past organizations such as the KKK, the American Nazi Party, the manic Minutemen and sundry militia groups.

Watch your backs folks, they come out in the dark of night.

Posted by: apspa1 | November 17, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Braving the freezing temperatures?? Oh, look! Now you're just like the thousands of families you've helped put out on the streets!

Posted by: chilipop
==========================================
It was actually the guy before him who helped put families on the street. Common mistake chilipop, your peers usually mistake 10 months for 8 years all the time.

Posted by: priceisright | November 17, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Every Pres. of a country travels abroad...and they do it for the betterment of their country ..We as simple Citizen may not feel the good effect or the nice outcome of it immediately but we will eventually..We just need to be positive and do not lose hope!

btw have read some great articles about Pres.Obama trips here:

http://www.lipmantimes.com/?p=8764

http://www.lipmantimes.com/?p=8781

Posted by: lisag43 | November 17, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Braving the freezing temperatures?? Oh, look! Now you're just like the thousands of families you've helped put out on the streets!

Posted by: chilipop | November 17, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

As for 'modern man' going soft in not being able to brave the courtyards of the Forbidden City, do you see any of those guys wearing five or six layers of padded silk robes? Fur hats? Boots? Do you see great fires roaring in braziers between the walkways? Me neither.

As for Obama spending only half-an-hour, he's not a common tourist to wander at will through a massive complex. Once you've seen the big hall and one or two rooms, you've pretty much 'seen' the Forbidden City. I was there three years ago on another frigid day. The majority of rooms are small and dark and it's hard to see much as few of them are properly lit. I'm sure the Chinese gov't had a few 'show rooms' for Mr. Obama to see but he couldn't very well go off by himself and screw up the schedule.

Posted by: WonderfulWorld | November 17, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

OK, so the observation that this article references Mr. Obama's half hour visit to the Forbidden City as being more meaningful than Mr. Bush's two hour visit to the Hermitage is fair and reasonable, some of the other comments are really ridiculous. Folks, this is what a world leader does when they are on a state visit. Do you think that Queen Elizabeth really wanted to visit Colonial Williamsburg when she was in the US a couple years ago? It is OK to not have a criticism of everything that the President does. Don't worry, it won't turn you into a closet liberal or anything.

Posted by: SouthernerInDC | November 17, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

It was too cold to sit down and negotiate a global warming deal.

Posted by: pkhenry | November 17, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

In response to the post by arrabbiato:
"be advised that most of what you see inside are not treasures-just repros."
Yes, most are repros. The real things were hauled away by Chiang Kai-Shek to Taiwan, when he fled the Commies. The National Museum in Taipei has almost everything from the Forbidden City.

Posted by: vuthebao | November 17, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I would have been disappointed if the right wing dupes had not come out of the wood work to comment on this article. It always makes good reading. I mean air head Bush wanted to go to the sun and to avoid the heat he said he would go at night but that trip would have been trumpeted by all the fascisti.

Posted by: chopin224 | November 17, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: obamniac | November 17, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Gee, what a guy!

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | November 17, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I've been there. If you're going to devote only a half hour you may as well not go at all. Symbolism over substance rules again.

Thanks Ms. Kornblut for the riveting account.

Posted by: yarddawg50 | November 17, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Poor Obama "he braved freezing temperatures" wow what a he man. This rag will use any goofy ploy it can to make this idiot look heroic.

Posted by: affirmativeactionpresident | November 17, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

So Obama "braved" the Forbidden city for a whole half-hour yet Bush "rushed" through a museum in two hours? Really, is there anything the WaPo won't spin to make Obama look good? If you can't figure it out, two hours is longer than a half-hour. 3 year olds know this, but the WaPo doesn't.

Posted by: dgb100 | November 17, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

For whatever Obama wanted to accomplish in China, he could have saved the taxpayers money if instead of going to China, gone to Disney World in Orlando!
Disney at least hires Americans and keeps the locals earning money.

Posted by: SeniorVet | November 17, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Let's see if Obama and the loyal press have any comments about the environmental conditions in Beijing (I seriously doubt it - only Ameriaca can be guilty of polluting the world). A little traveling, like a little learning, can be a dangerous thing. Barack Obama on the loose in a foreign land is enough to frighten protocol officers and embarrass the rest of us. Now we know why Mr. Obama stunned everyone with an earlier similar bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, only the bow to the Japanese emperor was far more flamboyant, a sign of a really deep sense of inferiority. He was only practicing his bow in Riyadh.

Posted by: jahoby | November 17, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Hey ved, I've been through the Forbidden City- a lot of what you see in those rooms are fake furniture-Qing reproductions-except the Chinese guides lie and say "oh, yes, this is all authentic." It isn't. I'm not saying its not fascinating nonetheless but the BS propaganda that comes out of the official Chinese guides mouths when taking you around is enough to make you puke. Bring your own guide book, and be advised that most of what you see inside are not treasures-just repros.

Posted by: arrabbiato | November 17, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Asia is the emerging global powerhouse. Purposely taking time to determine America's future interaction with Asia will be very beneficial in the near and extended future. Way to go President Obama. Let's make sure Asians see the US as a partner they can work with rather than as a bully who will attempt to impose it's will upon them by threatening and saber rattling.

Posted by: VietVet68 | November 17, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Watching the Great African Teleprompter Reader go on his trips in lavish style, paid for by the taxpayer, urges me to vomit.

Oh wait, Odumbo will just print more money. No worries.

Posted by: tjhall1 | November 17, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

BO could have spent some of his butt kissing time in Peking having a ridiculous town hall meeting. Oh, wait....

Posted by: carlbatey | November 17, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

AUM.
The Forbidden City is the complex pf palaces and open courtyards of the ancient and medieval Imperial China. What all palace intrigues took place there and what important roles Eunuchs played is all a part of history. The stories are worth recounting.
President Obama said that he would let his two daughters have an opportunity to go round the Forbidden City of China in Beijing. Children and adolescents love it. Indeed a guided tour is informative and transplants the visitor to the old era.
It is rather surprising that President Barrack Obama finished the guided tour of the Forbidden City in just half an hour or so. There may be two reasons for it. Firstly, he was short of time because many matters of State policy awaited his decision. He and the host have yet to agree on many a ticklish point like Human Rights, freedom of information, Tibet's autonomy and role of Dalai Lama and the Trade between the two countries. Debt is an important aspect of the friendship pact, if one is signed in the present visit.
Secondly, it was freezing cold and exposing one's self to the biting cold in courtyards could be like inviting cough and cold at this critical juncture.
A point worth considering is: if the Imperial rulers could live and walk there in those days when the modern system of warming and air conditioning were non-existant, why couldn't the present age president, a representative of commoners, walk through the open courtyards between palaces? Has the modern man gone soft?
While we are on palaces of Imperial China, we cannot but recount how the Emperorswere fond of running an exclusive Harem to gratify their sexual desires. The Dowager Empress was known to have owned a male harem for the same purpose. Notwithstanding a life of profligacy the then emperors and high officials could withstand rigours of Beijing winter and now President of the USA just hurried through many palaces and open courtyards.
Just in the passing, it may be mentioned that the high officials of modern China have been chided for continuing with the practice of keeping concubines and mistresses as it breeds financial corruption.
Just a word of sober advice, Mr President. Please do not ask your daughters to see what you missed in the summer months as it would be equally intolerable due to hot and dusty winds. The heat and the dust may be avouided. September or October may be pleasant.
Cheers and Au Revoir.
Contact phone : 0091-9811173590.

Posted by: vedicupvan | November 17, 2009 6:45 AM | Report abuse

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