Chinese President Hu Jintao got almost everything he wanted out of yesterday’s visit to the White House.
He got the 21-gun salute, the review of the troops and the Colonial fife-and-drum corps. He got the exchange of toasts and a meal of wild-caught Alaskan halibut with mushroom essence, $50 chardonnay and live bluegrass music. And he got an Oval Office photo op with President Bush, who nodded and smiled as if he understood Chinese while Hu spoke.
If only the White House hadn’t given press credentials to a Falun Gong activist who five years ago heckled Hu’s predecessor, Jiang Zemin, in Malta. Sure enough, 90 seconds into Hu’s speech on the South Lawn, the woman started shrieking, “President Hu, your days are numbered!” and “President Bush, stop him from killing!”
Also see “Protester pierces pomp laid on for Hu” from the Financial Times, by Caroline Daniel (link):
It had all begun so perfectly. Under a clear blue sky, dozens of troops started to mass on the South Lawn of the White House for the ceremonial greeting of President Hu Jintao of China. Wisps of purple wisteria framed the sun-lit front porch.
Update: For more on the U.S.’s diplomatic gaffes during Hu’s visit, read comments from the Useless Tree blog (link) and China Confidential (link). Also, according to ABC News (link), Vice President Dick Cheney appears to have fallen asleep during the news briefing by Presidents Hu and Bush.