Friday, April 21, 2006

The wonder of diplomatic blunder

I think I called this one right on the money. Dana Millbank gives some creedence to my theory that the White House set up the screaming dissident "reporter" scenario.

If only the White House hadn't given press credentials to a Falun Gong activist who five years ago heckled Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, in Malta. Sure enough, 90 seconds into Hu's speech on the South Lawn, the woman started shrieking, "President Hu, your days are numbered!" and "President Bush, stop him from killing!"

Bush and Hu looked up, stunned. It took so long to silence her -- a full three minutes -- that Bush aides began to wonder if the Secret Service's strategy was to let her scream herself hoarse. The rattled Chinese president haltingly attempted to continue his speech and television coverage went to split screen.
And that wasn't the sole extent of the hamfisted diplomatic "blunders" commited by the White House.

...The protocol-obsessed Chinese leader suffered a day full of indignities -- some intentional, others just careless. The visit began with a slight when the official announcer said the band would play the "national anthem of the Republic of China" -- the official name of Taiwan. It continued when Vice President Cheney donned sunglasses for the ceremony, and again when Hu, attempting to leave the stage via the wrong staircase, was yanked back by his jacket. Hu looked down at his sleeve to see the president of the United States tugging at it as if redirecting an errant child.

Then there were the intentional slights. China wanted a formal state visit such as Jiang got, but the administration refused, calling it instead an "official" visit. Bush acquiesced to the 21-gun salute but insisted on a luncheon instead of a formal dinner, in the East Room instead of the State Dining Room. Even the visiting country's flags were missing from the lampposts near the White House.

[...]

The meeting in the Oval Office brought more of the same. In front of the cameras, Bush thanked Hu for his "frankness" -- diplomatic code for disagreement -- and Hu stood expressionless. The two unexpectedly agreed to take questions from reporters, but Bush grew impatient as Hu gave a long answer about trade, made all the longer by the translation. Bush at one point tapped his foot on the ground. "It was a very comprehensive answer," he observed when Hu finished.
Damn those world leaders who give comprehensive answers. Don't they know the Prez can only sit still through 30 second sound bites? I'm no fan of Hu. He's an evil man but it seems to me it's exceedingly impolitic and in fact dangerous to piss off a world leader whose standing army is larger than the entire population of the US* with the world's largest standing army.

* With thanks for the link -- for Exile, that stickler for accuracy, who points out in comments that I may have exaggerated a little on that point.
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4 Comments:

Blogger Bostonian Exile said...

If only the White House hadn't given press credentials to a Falun Gong activist who five years ago heckled Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, in Malta.

This looks like it has Rove's fingerprints on it, but if so then what is the gambit, I wonder?

. . .a world leader whose standing army is larger than the entire population of the US.

Point well made, but the numbers are too big by over 100-fold.

12:56:00 PM  
Blogger His Honor the Mayor said...

I thought it was ironic that just after praising China for its (non-existent) progress on human rights, this woman was arrested expressing her freedom of speech. For this reason, I don't believe it was a set-up.

2:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Libby said...

Oh Exile -- you're such a stickler for facts. So I exaggerated a little, it's the world's largest standing army and they got bombs too.

Yer Honor -- Huh? Did we read the same article or were you being sarcastic?

2:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bostonian Exile said...

. . . it's the world's largest standing army and they got bombs too.

True enough. I have to admit that I did a double-take when looking for the exact number. I thought the total military was just shy of 3 million, but the first number I found actually showed over 300 million.

I then blinked and saw that it was the total for the male military-age population, including those who are not physically able to serve.

For a second, though, I was wondering how they had grown so fast.

3:13:00 PM  

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