White House seeks to avoid 2006 mistakes in upcoming state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao
(Photo Credit: By Susan Biddle/The Washington Post)
Washington is abuzz with preparations for the state visit next week by Chinese President Hu Jintao.
This isn't Hu's first time to the White House. Hu visited President George W. Bush in 2006, but it was deemed an "official visit," a less prestigious tag. The slight was not taken well by the Chinese at a time of tensions over trade, human rights and the status of Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing considers a breakaway part of the mainland. The visit was further marred when a Falun Gong protester broke through the security cordon to heckle Hu during his speech, and an interpreter announced the Chinese national anthem as that of the "Republic of China," the official name of Taiwan.
The difficulties in the bilateral relationship were prominent parts of the public remarks by both heads of state. Bush said that "as the relationship between our two nations grows and matures we can be candid about our disagreements," while Hu dedicated a significant portion of his speech to Taiwan.
The last time the White House hosted a state visit by China was in 1997, when President Bill Clinton welcomed Jiang Zemin. It was the first high-level summit after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.
This time around, the Obama administration is determined to fete Hu and his delegation in the same way they hosted their counterparts from U.S. allies Mexico and India earlier. Hu will be honored at a black-tie state dinner -- a symbolic victory for the Chinese leader who since his last visit has increased his country's prominence in global efforts ranging from discussions about how to stem the economic crisis to clean-energy innovation.
While details about Hu's visit have been hush-hush, it will be short, from Jan. 18-21.
Here's a tentative schedule:
Hu will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base and stay at the Blair House. He'll have a private dinner with President Obama.
He'll be greeted with a formal arrival ceremony on the South Lawn with honor guards and the traditional 21-gun salute. There will then be a series of meetings between the two presidents and their aides, followed by a news conference by Obama and Hu.
He'll have lunch at the State Department and tour the new Chinese embassy complex.
In the evening, the president and first lady Michelle Obama will host a dinner that will include government officials from both countries as well as Chinese Americans, corporate executives and others with ties to China. (In case you're curious, the menu and guest list are usually kept a secret until the day of the event, but Jiang's menu included "chilled lobster with Corn Leek Relish," "pepper crusted Oregon beef," "salad of mache, endive and arugula" and a "mandarin tea tartlet." More about the menu from The Post's Food Section blog.)
Hu will visit Capitol Hill to meet with leaders from both the Democratic and Republican parties. He will then speak at a luncheon hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the U.S.-China Business Council. Later that day, Hu is expected to arrive in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported, quoting city officials. The visit will include a dinner and a visit to a local high school.
Ariana Eunjung Cha
| January 13, 2011; 1:12 PM ET
Categories: China, White House
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