China blames United States, journalists for Obama airport fiasco (But nobody who was there is buying that story)

Reuters

Mon Sep 5, 2016 7:28am EDT

China on Monday leveled responsibility at the United States and journalists for a fracas at a Chinese airport, in which officials of both countries exchanged heated remarks as President Barack Obama disembarked from his aircraft.

The comments by a foreign ministry spokeswoman were in response to questions whether China, which is hosting a G20 summit meeting in its eastern city of Hangzhou, intentionally failed to provide Obama’s plane with a staircase, an event that has fueled speculation it was a diplomatic snub.

“I think if only the American group had respected the working arrangements first made with China then this wouldn’t have occurred,” Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing on Monday.

“You saw that all the other country leaders all used the stairs that China provided. So why was it only the United States that didn’t? These were the stairs the United States requested.”

Hua questioned why China would intentionally create trouble for the United States, adding that the incident was not a high-level issue, echoing comments made by Obama on Sunday.

A Chinese security official had also blocked National Security Adviser Susan Rice on the tarmac and yelled at another U.S. official trying to help journalists get closer to Obama.

Hua criticized the media for not respecting China’s rules on where to stand to capture images of the Obama leaving the plane, adding that other countries’ reporters were fine.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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China’s leaders have been accused of delivering a calculated diplomatic snub to Barack 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.

When Obama did find his way on to a red carpet on the tarmac below there were heated 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 Jinping to 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.”

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