Bizarre incident on tarmac as Obama arrives for G-20 summit

The Chinese are hosting the G-20 summit for the first time and are extremely anxious that everything come off without a hitch.

That may explain a bizarre incident on the Hangzhou airport tarmac, where national security adviser Susan Rice was accosted as she walked toward the motorcade car.


Shortly after Obama's plane landed in the eastern city of Hangzhou, a Chinese official attempted to prevent his national security adviser Susan Rice from walking to the motorcade as she crossed a media rope line, speaking angrily to her before a Secret Service agent stepped between the two.

Rice responded but her comments were inaudible to reporters standing underneath the wing of Air Force One. It was unclear if the official, whose name was not immediately clear, knew that Rice was a senior official and not a reporter.

The same official shouted at a White House press aide who was instructing foreign reporters on where to stand as they recorded Obama disembarking from the plane.

"This is our country. This is our airport," the official said in English, pointing and speaking angrily with the aide.

The U.S. aide insisted that the journalists be allowed to stand behind a rope line, and they were able to record the interaction and Obama's arrival uninterrupted, typical practice for U.S. press traveling with the president.

A White House spokesman and China's Foreign Ministry both did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The altercation occurred out of sight of Obama, who greeted ambassadors and other officials before the presidential motorcade pulled away with Rice.

The incident is an illustration of the image-conscious ruling Communist Party's efforts to control the media as its seeks to orchestrate what it hopes will be a flawless event.

China has taken extensive security measures in preparation for the G20 summit opening on Sunday.

On Saturday, many roads and shops in Hangzhou were deserted and shuttered in the usually bustling city with a population of 9 million.

The Chinese government has broad control over domestic media and prevents many foreign media outlets from publishing in the country, including by blocking their websites.

Not exactly putting your best foot forward.

The contrast between China's treatment of the foreign press and how other nations in the G-20 allow for press freedom is stark.  As much as they try to control media content, they will ultimately fail.  Reporters may be lapdogs about some things, but they bristle when their movements are curtailed and their content is censored.

China is making no friends with its zealous attempts to control the media.

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