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.
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 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.
A Chinese foreign ministry official involved in the visit denied it had been a snub, telling the South China Morning Post the US delegation had declined to use the usual rolling red-carpet staircase.
“It would do China no good in treating Obama rudely,” the official, who declined to be named, was quoted as saying.
“China provides a rolling staircase for every arriving state leader, but the US side complained that the driver doesn’t speak English and can’t understand security instructions from the United States; so China proposed that we could assign a translator to sit beside the driver, but the US side turned down the proposal and insisted that they didn’t need the staircase provided by the airport,” the official added.
Courtesy: The Guardian