Asia-Pacific News

Beijing blames 'big-headed' US media for red carpet furor

How did Obama fare in his Asia pivot strategy?

Apparently stung by continuing criticism over its treatment of Barack Obama, Beijing has blamed the "highly unprofessional" U.S. media for hyping the fact the U.S. President found himself without a red carpet, or even stairs, when he touched down in Hangzhou.

Arriving for the G-20 leaders summit in China on Saturday, Obama was forced to leave his Air Force One jet though a back exit, while Chinese officials refused to allow reporters and photographers beyond a cordon, preventing them from witnessing his arrival.

Heated remarks were exchanged between the two sides and the episode exploded in the media, with some commentators reading it as a deliberate snub that reflected current tensions in bilateral relations.

Jorge Guajardo, Mexico's former ambassador to China went on record about how he thinks China's treatment of Obama was a deliberate snub.

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Obama himself played down the incident, saying on Sunday that he wouldn't "overcrank the significance" of tensions at the airport because the size of the U.S. presidential entourage placed considerable security demands on foreign hosts.

And on Sunday, an anonymous Chinese official told the South China Morning Post that it was in fact Washington's decision to have Obama disembark Air Force One via his own stairway.

But the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency then helped prolong the furore by posting a short-lived "Classy as always China" tweet on its Twitter account on Monday about the episode.

Questioned on the issue at the Chinese foreign affairs ministry's regular press conference on Monday, ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying hit back, calling the incident a "small episode" and blaming the "highly unprofessional" U.S. media for "making an issue out of it."

"They fabricated news and added wild guesses to it without getting to the bottom of this issue," she said. "This would only consolidate the impression that some western media are arrogant and big-headed."

China had tried its best to meet the requirements of all G-20 delegations, including those of the U.S., she added.

"However, all the large-scale international conferences and multilateral activities have routine practices and corresponding procedures to follow," Hua noted.

"As the host country, we will provide as much convenience and service as possible to the media while ensuring the safety and order of all the activities.

"Meanwhile, visiting countries should respect and conform to such practices and arrangements," she said.

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