20 April 2006

on Greeting Hu

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Michael Klare on Greeting Hu with a 21-Gun "Salute": "On Tuesday April 18, Chinese President Hu Jintao landed in the United States and, after a tour of a Boeing plant, made his official way, with all due pomp and ceremony, to the expectable 'state banquet' in Washington… no, not at the White House but at the Washington State home of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. In fact, the Chinese leader came to Seattle, Washington, ready to toss money at Microsoft goodies and Boeing jets in an atmosphere as celebratory as money can make things.
Thursday, Hu will arrive in the 'other' Washington in a less celebratory mood -- at a time when Chinese relations with the Bush administration are in a state of heightening tension and likely to get worse. He will arrive for a… Well, what is it?
The Chinese insist that Hu is coming on an official 'state visit' and point to the traditional presidential greeting on the White House lawn and the 21-gun salute for a state leader as evidence of that. The White House, which is offering neither a state dinner, nor a cabinet meeting for the Chinese president to attend but a simple working lunch, begs to differ. What's happening is only a visit-type visit, nothing more. (''It's an official visit, it's a visit, is the way I would describe it,' said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. We have ‘one visit, different interpretations.'') At the micro-level of protocol, this catches much about our East Asian moment. "

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