Before heading across the Pacific, the President seemed pretty excited about the prospect of meeting with China’ president and signing off on a new global warming treaty which China obviously has no intention of honoring and Congress apparently has no interest in approving at this time. But even though Barack Obama and Xi Jinping at least claim to see eye to eye on climate change, that doesn’t mean that everything in China was going to go smoothly. In fact, the Chinese – normally real sticklers on decorum – seemed to be sending not very subtle signals of their displeasure with the White House before Obama even had his feet on the tarmac. While everyone else was literally given the red carpet treatment, the American president found himself descending his plane’s utility stairway. (AT&T Live)
If President Barack Obama was hoping for a graceful start to his final trip to Asia as commander in chief, this wasn’t it.
Confrontations between Chinese officials and White House staff and other diplomatic dust-ups were out in the open from the moment Air Force One landed in Hangzhou, where world leaders were attending an economic summit.
The first sign of trouble: There was no staircase for Obama to exit the plane and descend on the red carpet. Obama used an alternative exit.
On the tarmac, a quarrel broke out between a presidential aide and a Chinese official who demanded the journalists traveling with Obama be prohibited from getting anywhere near him. It was a breach of the tradition observed whenever the American president arrives in a foreign place.
I first caught wind of this story at Liberty Unyielding, where J.E. Dyer picks apart the real first snub and explains why it’s such a big deal.
But those encounters have overshadowed what is so far the most marked sign of disfavor from China: not providing the ceremonial jet stairway for Obama to descend to a red carpet for his arrival.
That literally happened. Obama ended up having to come down a utility stairway from the back of Air Force One.
The AP story contains that nugget, and it’s confirmed by video of Obama’s arrival.
Here’s the video from Chinese TV that Dyer is talking about.
In case that video went by too quickly, take another look at the President as he descends from Air Force One. Those are the utility stairs which provide access to the plane from the lower section. Normally he embarks and deplanes via a jetway from the main door just to the rear of the cockpit.
Liberty Unyielding has a full set of photos of the other world leaders arriving, but just for one example, let’s see what sort of welcome the Chinese provided for the new Prime Minister of Canada.
Yep, that’s literally a red carpet on the jetway stairs and there was a similar stretch of material on the ground for his family to walk across. And the rest of the dignitaries received the same treatment.
In some ways you might think this is a badge of honor for Obama. He’s clearly upset the Chinese with our refusal to honor their South China Sea artificial islands as China’s sovereign territory and we’ve continued to steam naval vessels past them. But China has had a beef with other nations being represented at the G20 and their leaders didn’t get the cold shoulder like this. Far more likely is the idea that this snub was designed to show that China has no fear of us and not that much respect when you get right down to it.
This isn’t groundbreaking news by any stretch of the imagination and the press will let it fade down the memory hole quickly. But it’s one more example of how America doesn’t carry the same big stick on the international stage that we once did.