China’s rebuke of President Barack Obama was anything but subtle.
The Guardian reported that when Obama arrived in Hangzhou, China, on Saturday, a day before the start of the G-20 Summit, Chinese authorities refused to roll out a red carpet staircase for him, thus forcing him to disembark Air Force One from a rarely used exit in its rear end.
When at last he made it onto the tarmac, another controversy erupted — this one between U.S. and Chinese officials, the latter of whom demanded that any journalists traveling with the president leave the arrival scene immediately.
Obama’s White House officials reportedly tried denying this request, barking at Chinese authorities that this was their president and their airplane.
However, this attempt at tough talk failed spectacularly, as it so often does with the Obama White House.
“This is our country!” an unidentified Chinese government official yelled back. “This is our airport!”
Government official was not happy that reporters were under the wing of AF1. WH press aide would not back down. pic.twitter.com/C3JRVIe37K
— Roberta Rampton (@robertarampton) September 3, 2016
Speaking with reporters, Mexico’s former ambassador to China, Jorge Guajardo, later theorized that what happened at the airport — from the staircase fiasco to the squabble on the tarmac — was not accidental.
“These things do not happen by mistake,” he said, according to the Guardian. “Not with the Chinese … It’s a snub. It’s a way of saying: ‘You know, you’re not that special to us.’”
Was this what international diplomacy was supposed to look like? I think not. But it was a perfect distillation of what years of Obama’s feckless leadership has done to America’s image abroad, where respect for the world’s greatest superpower had dwindled to almost nothing.
Bill Bishop, a retired college professor and expert on China, concurred, telling The Guardian that China’s behavior was deliberate and meant “to make the Americans look diminished and weak.”
“This clearly plays very much into the [idea]: ‘Look, we can make the American president go out of the a– of the plane,’” he said.
Now just imagine the Chinese ever trying a stunt like this with GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. I cannot predict for certain how he would react, but I imagine that it wouldn’t be like this.