Care needed during Hu's US visit
By Franck Ching, Special to The China Post
January 12, 2011, 11:24 am TWN
Chinese President Hu Jintao is arriving in Washington next week for a state visit that has been likened in importance to the visit by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979, shortly after the inauguration of Sino-American relations.
According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, the latest visit should "aim for a definition of the relationship between the two countries that does justice to the global promise of constructive cooperation between them."
The Deng visit, he said, crystallized U.S.-Chinese efforts to oppose Soviet expansionism and marked the beginning of China's economic transformation, which was facilitated by its new diplomatic ties with the United States.
The visit by President Hu to the White House will be his first since 2006, when he was subjected to indignities that he no doubt resented.
For one thing, the Bush administration refused to characterize it as a state visit, even though it was the Chinese leader's first trip to Washington after becoming president. Instead of getting a state dinner at the White House, he was merely invited to lunch.
Moreover, the White House was so unprepared that when the Chinese national anthem was played, the announcer said it was the anthem of the "Republic of China" — the name of the government on Taiwan — when the proper name should have been the People's Republic of China.
Lastly, and worst of all, while the Chinese leader was speaking, he was heckled by a member of the Falun Gong. The heckling went on for several minutes while the Secret Service did nothing, awaiting the arrival of the local police to eject the heckler.
Hopefully, this year, none of these things will happen. The Obama administration should treat the Chinese visitor with the dignity that he deserves.
Certainly, the mistake on the national anthem could only have reflected a lack of appreciation of the importance of the visitor and the country he represented.
The Hu visit to Washington will follow the visit to Beijing this week by the American secretary of defense, Robert Gates, whose request to visit China in 2010 was rebuffed by the Chinese.
Last year was a bad year for U.S.-China relations, following a very good year marked by a visit to China by President Barack Obama.