Hu’s Almost Harmonious Visit
Image Credit: White House

Hu’s Almost Harmonious Visit


It will be months, if not years, before the enduring impact of Hu Jintao’s four-day state visit to the United States—the first by a Chinese president in more than a dozen years—will really become evident. This is partly because the most significant discussions between Hu and US leaders occurred in private. But it’s also because the detailed departmental-level dialogue that occurs before and after the summit between Chinese and US officials will anyway likely have a greater impact on how the bureaucracies of the two governments interpret and implement any agreements.

Still, observers seemed relieved that the meeting between the leaders, of what are arguably the two most important countries in the world, occurred without any major incidents.

The two presidents certainly had domestic political incentives to make tough public statements ahead of the summit, but to ensure that any overt disagreements were kept within bounds. After all, the Obama administration is particularly keen to avoid the US-China relationship from becoming a divisive political football in next year’s presidential campaign. The Chinese, for their part, wanted Hu to have more positive visuals than occurred during his 2006 trip to Washington on what will likely have been his last major visit to the United States before he steps down.

And, on the surface, the summit met both Chinese hopes for a smooth visit with no unpleasant surprises and the Obama administration’s desire to smooth over a key bilateral relationship that had been a little bumpy over the past year. The meeting certainly managed to avoid the major gaffes that marred Hu’s previous visit in 2006, when President George W. Bush hosted Hu to a lunch rather than the desired gala state dinner. In addition, the 2006 visit was marred by disruptive incidents including the public heckling of the Chinese president’s speech by a protester from the Falun Gong spiritual sect, while the White House announcer misidentified the Chinese national anthem as being that of the ‘Republic of China,’ which is Taiwan’s official name.

Last week, in contrast, the White House welcomed Hu with the full pomp of a military band and 21-gun salute. Obama hosted the Chinese president to a full state dinner with a glamorous guest list of current and former American presidents, Hollywood movie stars and leading US business leaders. This was all lapped up by the Chinese media, which freely quoted positive reviews of the trip by foreign and Chinese analysts (though it generally ignored the discordant observations that appeared in some editorials and op-eds published in Western papers).

February 3, 2011 at 19:51

Firstadvisor, your rhetoric is overblown, melodramatic, and menacing. Do you really think you are scoring points with anyone other than slavish CPC backers such as John Chan? You both are perfect examples of the type of hyper-nationalism that will ultimately disappear when the Chinese people overthrow the CPC and establish their own democracy.

January 29, 2011 at 03:58

Thank you for the very Confucian response, not. Actually Mr. Chan I am an Economist by training and employment so I would have to disagree with your assumption that I know nothing about both economics and finance. As for the U.S. being bankrupt, let me remind you that U.S. is still the world’s largest manufacturer by some distance, has the deepest most technologically savvy financial markets, one of the most educated and productive workforces in the world, is the unrivaled technological, cultural, entrepreneurial and military leader in the world. U.S. citizens possess great wealth that is spread around the world. The U.S has tremendous natural resources, a glut of arable land, huge reserves of fresh water, is surrounded by two oceans and friendly neighbors on all sides, possess the worlds only true blue water navy and the worlds reserve currency. U.S. debt is 100% in U.S. dollars and the U.S. population continues to grow and is far younger than China’s. I am sorry to say chap but your an idiot who needs to grow up and face the facts.

John Chan
January 26, 2011 at 12:22

@ThomasPain, you know nothing about economy or financing. All you know is a lot of bad faith and mean spirited words. China just wants to be left alone. China is doing its best to help the world and bail out bankrupted developed nations despite itself is a developing nation.

Your bad wishes for China won’t happen, your bad wishes most likely become reality for the West soon. You better spend time to save yourself from layoff before it is too late.

The only discretionary spending in the US budget is defense spending which is the first on block to be cut. Experts in the US said within 5 years the US can even pay the salaries for the troops because of irresponsible government borrowing and mounting debt.

John Chan
January 26, 2011 at 11:55

Then, what will happen next? USA’s economy keep on downward spirling for ever! In addition, the housing and credit bubbles will be bursting again soon! More people lose jobs, USA debt is going sky high in to hundreds of trillions, the US people will be burdened by repaying debt for generations to come. Nothing would be left for USA except its break-up!! It’s so sad! But that’s its destiny!!

January 26, 2011 at 08:49

Then, what will happen next? China’s economy can not keep on growing like hell for ever! Instead, the bubble will be bursting soon!Nothing would be left for China except its break-up!! It’s so sad!But that’s its destiny!!

January 26, 2011 at 06:57

Wow First Advisor you must have a very weak sense of your country’s self worth if you think that questions about China’s human rights abuses and mercantilist policies represent contemptuous, aggressive provocation. If this is how citizens of China view the world may the day never come in which China has the means to avenge all of the so-called slights of the west. The truth is that China has real human rights problems, such as, the forced harvesting of organs from prisoners, forced abortion, forced land appropriation and imprisonment of dissidents. As for China’s economic policies, all I can say is that, the laws economics are called laws for a reason. China will soon face the choice of massive inflation or forced revaluation of the Renminbi. Either of these outcomes will see the wholesales closure of inefficient export orientated manufacturing facilities and mass unemployment of those works employed in these industries.

The net outcome of this process is that thankfully China will not, for a very long time, be in a position to “punish” the west, and thanks to Beijing’s bellicose posturing and actions in Asia the U.S. will remain deeply entrenched in China’s back yard for a very long time.

John Chan
January 26, 2011 at 00:01

man, you said it.

January 25, 2011 at 16:04

Some might regard the US-China meeting as ‘almost harmonious’, in so much as the Chinese didn’t respond to any of the vicious, malicious, contemptuous insults and bellicose provocations of the Americans. Instead, the Chinese said nothing, waited patiently for five days, and left again. As any analyst can see, the Chinese will need at least 10 years, and probably closer to 20, before they are ready to respond to the USA in an appropriate manner. In the meantime, the world can be certain they will remember the insults and provocations, the contemptuous, aggressive stripping away of their face. The Americans made sure the Chinese would never forget.

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