Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Friday, January 21, 2011

White House Welcomes Chinese President

Chinese President Hu Jintao  was given a welcome reception in Washington by the White House as he and President Obama talked trade, trust, and human rights issues.
President Obama and Chinese president Hu Jintao take a photo after their joint press conference. Photo/CD Brown.
"Let’s also never forget that throughout our history our people have worked together for mutual progress.  We’ve traded together for more than 200 years.  We stood together in the Second World War.  Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans have helped to build America, including many who join us here tonight", said President Obama.

While the White House was welcoming the foreign president (the eighth time the two presidents have met), those on Capitol Hill cited reasons why the U.S. should not be so diplomatic with the current Chinese president.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, (R-NJ) touted president Hu as China's "iron fist in Tibet, referring to the Chinese leader's activities in the region during his career.

Smith then referred to Chinese dissidents who claim to have been shocked under their armpits and in their genitals with electronic cattle prods. "Hu Jintao presides over that sickness and perversity," Smith said.

Protesters outside the White House view President Jintoa as a failed leader. Photo/CD Brown.
When the issue was addressed during Wednesday's joint press conference in the East Room of the White House with reporters, president Hu said: "China is always committed to the protection and promotion of human rights.  And in the course of human rights, China has also made enormous progress, recognized widely in the world."

Outside the White House protesters held signs that read "Hu Jintao: Failed Leader" and chanted  "Free Tibet now."

While the U.S. is fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of democracy, protesters proclaimed they want democracy for the people of the Chinese Republic.
Others held banners that read, "Ban Chinese Missiles."  As day turned into night, an even eerier protest continued as demonstrators dressed in red skeleton customes with white skulls held signs that read "There are skeletons Hu's closet."

Still president Obama recognized the Chinese nation and their rise as a force.

"We welcome China's rise", Obama said.  "I absolutely believe that China’s peaceful rise is good for the world and it’s good for America.  First of all, it’s good for humanitarian reasons.  The United States has an interest in seeing hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty.  We believe part of justice and part of human rights is people being able to make a living and having enough to eat and having shelter and having electricity."

Obama said China is good for the U.S. in terms of China purchasing U.S. products, calling it an "enormous economic opportunity."

"We want to sell you all kinds of stuff.  We want to sell you planes.  We want to sell you cars.  We want to sell you software."

Whether it's selling planes, trains, or automobiles, what President Hu thinks needs to be done to strengthen US-China relations and meet global challenges are:  1) "Row in the same direction.... as we tackle future challenges."; 2) "increase our communication and coordination"; 3) "respect and accommodate each other’s interests and concerns."

Said Hu, "I’m convinced that as long as our two sides continue to act in this spirit, and as long as we continue to work together with other countries concerned, we will be able to engage in cooperation in an even broader range of areas to the benefit of world peace and development."
A pool report from the state dinnder indicated that Hu made the following comment about US-China relations since President Obama has been in office:  Hu said that relations between the two countries have greatly improved. "In the past two years since President Obama has taken office, our relations have made tremendous headway," Hu said.

Hu also met with Chicago businessman on Thursday as part of his four day visit to America.

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The State Dinner

All the trade, trust, and human rights issues aside, the real talk of the day was the state dinner and what the First Lady would be wearing. Here we see the First Lady wearing a beautiful off-the-shoulder (because we know she likes to show her shoulders) gown, her hair up, with shawl draped around her arms.

Of the 225 guests scheduled to attend were Jackie Chan, Vera Wang, Olympic skater Michelle Kwan, and Barbara Streistand.

State Dinner arrival: President and First Lady Obama welcome Chinese president Jintao Hu at the North Portico of the White House. Photo/CD Brown.

The menu, with many items from local famers and The Chef's Garden, consisted of traditional American cuisine as requested by the Chinese Delegation, and included:  Pear Salad with goat cheese, poached main lobster, orange glaze carrots and black trumpet mushrooms, dry aged rib with double stuffed potatoes and creamed spinach.   The dessert item was as American as you can get:  old fashioned apple pie with vanilla ice cream (my favorite!).

State Dinner place setting adorned with flowers and Clinton chinawear. Photo/CD Brown.
Entertainment on the evening saw the likes of Chris Botti (who performs at the Kennedy Center on February 14th), Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, and Lang Lang in a beautifull night of Jazz.

Click here to see a performance. Click here to see photos of our first state dinner with India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

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