Worst Week in Washington in
When Chinese President Hu Jintao came to Washington for an official state visit this past week, he was greeted with that greatest of American attributes: skepticism.
While Hu was feted at a state dinner (the Fix’s invite must have been lost in the mail) and received all the trappings a world leader would expect, there were also some awkward moments.
At a joint news conference with President Obama on Wednesday, Hu was challenged on China’s human rights record by Bloomberg’s Hans Nichols: “First off, my colleague asked you a question about human rights, which you did not answer,” said Nichols, referring to a prior question by Ben Feller of the Associated Press. “I was wondering if we could get an answer to that question.”
Ouch. Hu eventually fessed up that “a lot still needs to be done in China, in terms of human rights.”
It didn’t get much better for Hu when he went to Capitol Hill to huddle with Democratic and Republican leaders. Hu and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) were all smiles on Thursday, but just a few days earlier, Reid told a Nevada TV station that Hu was a “dictator.” (He backtracked soon after.)
Reid was not the only Hu-basher on the Hill. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) declined an invite to the state dinner, calling Hu the “leader of a repressive regime,” while Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) compared China to a “gangster regime that murders their own people.”
The Chinese, for their part, seemed unruffled by the criticism. “The two presidents had extensive and friendly exchanges,” said the country’s vice foreign minister, adding that the visit “proved to be a great success.”
President Hu, for getting the Bronx cheer on your official visit to the nation’s capital, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.