G20: Even as the US President Barack Obama has sought to downplay the ‘snub’ he received from China upon his arrival at the 11th G20 meet in Hangzhou city, the controversy over the incident refuses to die. President Obama was deprived of a grand descendence on the red carpet from Air Force One at the ongoing G20 meet. He had to walk into a chaotic scene, with Chinese security officials cordoning off members of the White House press corps to prevent them from recording the arrival.
The incident happened as reportedly Chinese officials reversed their decision to allow the Americans to use a set of rolling air stairs for Obama’s grand descendence. When the American showed they were willing to use a Chinese stairway, the local official insisted on sending a Chinese driver for taking the equipment to Air Force One.
However, the US officials demanded an English-speaking driver but were refused by the Chinese. At the time of the landing, the Chinese had relented asking the American to use their own stairs, but by then the US officials had decided to use a smaller exit door in the belly of the aircraft.
The treatment meted out to President Obama is being seen by many as not only a sign of China’s growing defiance towards the US but also growing “nationalist pride” across the country under President Xi Jinping.
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The New York Times quotes Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China, as saying: “It’s part of a nationalist culture that he is imparting throughout China at every level: ‘The U.S. does not tell us what to do’”.
The daily quotes Guajardo as saying that he was at the receiving end of extreme demands of the Chinese while working with the latter during a G20 conference in Los Cabos.
“The driver-staircase issue is a way to take a stance and make the Chinese people proud that they’re not pushovers,” he told NYT.
While President Obama later downplayed the incident saying it was “normal give-and-take over security and media access” that his country has with other nations, local Chinese administrative officials reportedly denied there was any attempt by China to humiliate President Obama deliberately. Instead, it reflected how tense China had been in organising the major event involving prominent world leaders.
However, the incident was apparently certainly not received well by the US as the country’s Defense Intelligence Agency tweeted a news about the alleged snubbing President Obama by China, but removed it later with a clarification.