Any doubt about the importance of Hu Jinato's trip on the Chinese side can be dispelled with a look at the way it has been covered in the domestic media.
As Reuters notes, the trip has already been described as a diplomatic 'masterstroke' for easing tensions, with the nationalist Global Times even describing the visit as an 'important contribution towards world peace.'
Needless to say, the Chinese press has glossed over an awkward moment where Hu ignored a question put to him by an Associated Press reporter over China's human rights record (Hu blamed a misunderstanding over the translating, and a number of observers have admittedly also suggested the interpretation arrangements were confusing, including Samuel Chi at Real Clear World) before awkwardly answering a later one posed by Bloomberg.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Still, the White House was quick to praise Hu's statement that: 'A lot still needs to be done in China in terms of human rights. We will continue our efforts to improve the lives of the Chinese people, and we will continue our efforts to promote democracy and the rule of law in our country.'
It's certainly an interesting admission. But of course the question should then be what exactly Hu thinks needs to be done in terms of human rights? While there's no quick fix for pulling tens of millions of people out of poverty, there are very much quicker fixes for improving individual human rights. Perhaps starting with not diplomatically bludgeoning countries into not sending their ambassadors to awards ceremonies…