Obama Takes High Road on Airport Confrontation in China

Obama deplanes from belly of plane after no stairway was made available.

President Barack Obama said on Sunday his talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping a day earlier had been “extremely productive” and that the significance of a row between U.S. and Chinese officials at the airport upon his arrival shouldn’t be overblown.

“I wouldn’t overcrank the significance” of tensions at the airport, Obama told a news conference in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, where global leaders are convening for a G20 summit.

Obama’s last scheduled trip to China before leaving office got off to an awkward start soon after Air Force One landed in Hangzhou when a Chinese security official blocked National Security Adviser Susan Rice on the tarmac and yelled at another U.S. official trying to help journalists get closer to Obama.



Confrontation on Tarmac

There was no staircase for Obama to exit the plane and descend on the red carpet. Obama used an alternative exit.


A quarrel broke out between a presidential aide and a Chinese official who demanded the journalists traveling with Obama be prevented from getting near him. It was a breach of the tradition observed when the American president arrives in a foreign place.

When the White House official insisted the US would set the rules for its own leader, her Chinese counterpart shot back.

“This is our country! This is our airport!” the Chinese official yelled.