Obama plays down Chinese snub at airport
President Obama played down the altercations that took place on the tarmac upon his arrival in China for the G-20 summit, saying he wouldn't "overcrank the significance" of the incidents.
But the president said nothing about the most significant incident at the airport: Chinese officials refused to roll out a red carpet staircase for the president to disembark from the plane, forcing him to exit from the rear of the craft.
Obama shrugged off the confrontations between the press and Chinese officials as something that "happens in other countries where we travel." Obama didn't give any examples of where else an American president had been so disrespected.
China’s leaders have been accused of delivering a calculated diplomatic snub toBarack Obama after the US president was not provided with a staircase to leave his plane during his chaotic arrival in Hangzhou before the start of the G20.
Chinese authorities have rolled out the red carpet for leaders including India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, and the British prime minister, Theresa May, who touched down on Sunday morning.
But the leader of the world’s largest economy, who is on his final tour of Asia, was forced to disembark from Air Force One through a little-used exit in the plane’s belly after no rolling staircase was provided when he landed in the eastern Chinese city on Saturday afternoon.
When Obama did find his way on to a red carpet on the tarmac below there wereheated altercations between US and Chinese officials, with one Chinese official caught on video shouting: “This is our country! This is our airport!”
“The reception that President Obama and his staff got when they arrived here Saturday afternoon was bruising, even by Chinese standards,” the New York Times reported.
Jorge Guajardo, Mexico’s former ambassador to China, said he was convinced Obama’s treatment was part of a calculated snub.
“These things do not happen by mistake. Not with the Chinese,” Guajardo, who hosted presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Felipe Calderón during his time in Beijing, told the Guardian.
“I’ve dealt with the Chinese for six years. I’ve done these visits. I took Xi Jinpingto Mexico. I received two Mexican presidents in China. I know exactly how these things get worked out. It’s down to the last detail in everything. It’s not a mistake. It’s not.”
Guajardo added: “It’s a snub. It’s a way of saying: ‘You know, you’re not that special to us.’ It’s part of the new Chinese arrogance. It’s part of stirring up Chinese nationalism. It’s part of saying: ‘China stands up to the superpower.’ It’s part of saying: ‘And by the way, you’re just someone else to us.’ It works very well with the local audience.
“Why [did it happen]?” the former diplomat, who was ambassador from 2007 until 2013, added. “I guess it is part of Xi Jinping playing the nationalist card. That’s my guess.”
This is a president who courts humiliation, who believes that America deserves to be disrespected. Most other presidents treated in this manner would have refused to disembark from the plane until the red carpet staircase had been pushed out. And if it didn't materialize, they would have taken off and gone home.
But Obama doesn't have it in him to blow up China's moment in the sun. As in everything else, he flinched and endured the humiliation.
Obama's cowardliness extends to others in his administration. Secretary of State John Kerry was repeatedly screamed at by his Iranian counterpart during the negotiations over the nuclear deal. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was ordered by Supreme Leader Khamenei to stop shouting at Kerry, who sat there like a whipped dog and took it.
No doubt Kerry believed that the U.S. deserves that kind of treatment, too.