April 21, 2006

Bush Loses Face

He just thinks it works the other way (and maybe it does in Texas). But when these events are reported in China, the widespread public sympathy will engender more anti-Americanism, thus bolstering support for Hu's Communist Party leadership.

This WaPo article, China and Its President Greeted by a Host of Indignities, demands a thoughtful read:
President Bush... nodded and smiled as if he understood Chinese while Hu spoke.
Or maybe that should be "as if he just didn't give a shit." After all, the White House lawn is HIS turf and he has marked every tree and bush within sight. So maybe Hu's minders should have seen what was coming...
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.

"You're okay," Bush gently reassured Hu.

But he wasn't okay, not really. 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...
Diplomacy or strategery? You decide.

Ironically, a woman screaming about freedom of speech in China is the first person to seriously disrupt a Bush media event in the "freedom-loving" USA for a very long time. It's all but impossible to believe it wasn't allowed to happen...
The Chinese had warned the White House to be careful about who was admitted to the ceremony. To no avail: They granted a one-day pass to Wang Wenyi of the Falun Gong publication Epoch Times. A quick Nexis search shows that in 2001, she slipped through a security cordon in Malta protecting Jiang (she had been denied media credentials) and got into an argument with him. The 47-year-old pathologist is expected to be charged today with attempting to harass a foreign official.

Bush apologized to the angry Chinese leader in the Oval Office. "Frankly, we moved on," National Security Council official Dennis Wilder told reporters later.
And thus this historic visit becomes yet another high-level failure of diplomacy, matching an all-too-familiar pattern for Bush meetings with foreign dignitaries:
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.
If China one day takes over as the "world's only superpower" amd Communist-style "market realities" become the global norm, historians may look back at this little episode and wonder why the USA did not make more of an effort.


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