Confusion about where the traveling American press pool should stand on the tarmac as President Barack Obama, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes disembarked from Air Force One led to shouting by a Chinese official.
As the President’s plane arrived at the airport in Hangzhou, the traveling press corp. was brought under the wing of the plane. As Rice and Rhodes attempted to walk from one side of a blue rope holding back the press, to the other side, one member of the Chinese delegation began to shout. A White House official shouted in return that Obama is “our president” and this is “our plane,” but the Chinese official retorted, “This is our country!”
When asked what happened, Rice described the incident as “They did things that weren’t anticipated.”
Obama is in China for a meeting of the G20, the first to take place in that country in the 17-year history of the G20 and only the second time in Asia.
Disputes with Chinese officials continued to plague the US delegation, even off of the tarmac. On the way to the summit’s venue, Westlake Statehouse, White House staff arriving ahead of the president were stopped at a security checkpoint. A hot argument ensued at the security gate between Chinese officials, White House staff, protocol officers, and the Secret Service, when they tried to enter the building separately from the press.
A Chinese official became angry at the way his fellow Chinese guard was treating the White House staff.
“You don’t push people. No one gave you the right to touch or push anyone around,” he yelled in Chinese at one of the Chinese security officials.
Another Chinese official stepped between the two Chinese men as the security official looked like he was about the strike the other one.
“Calm down, please. Calm down,” a White House official said.
“Stop, please,” said a foreign ministry official in Chinese. “There are reporters here.”