President Barack Obama’s visit to China for the upcoming G20 summit began on an awkward note Saturday with a runway confrontation between National Security Adviser Susan Rice and a Chinese official.
The dispute reached the level where Secret Service members intervened.
After Obama’s plane landed in the eastern city of Hangzhou, a Chinese official tried to stop Rice from walking to a waiting motorcade by crossing a media rope line.
As the two argued, a Secret Service agent stepped between them.
Reporters were unable to hear what was said.
The Chinese official who argued with Rice also had words with a White House press aide who was trying to tell the press pool that travels with Obama where to stand to shoot video of Obama getting off Air Force One.
The aide had put the media under one wing of Air Force One; the Chinese official wanted the media farther away.
The aide told the Chinese officials words to the effect that Obama was America’s president and Air Force One was an American plane and that the media was going to be where the aide wanted them.
“This is our country. This is our airport,” the Chinese official said in English, pointing to where he wanted the reporters.
The American aide would not budge, and reporters were allowed to use the spot to record Obama walking down to the runway.
The airport was not the only scene were American and Chinese officials bumped heads.
At Westlake Statehouse, where the summit was being held, American and Chinese officials argued over security protocols for allowing the Americans into the building.
Politico reported that a Chinese official helping the White House staff grew irritated at the Chinese guards.
“You don’t push people. No one gave you the right to touch or push anyone around,” he yelled. As the incident escalated, American and Chinese officials worked to avoid a fight breaking out.
“Stop, please,” said a foreign ministry official in Chinese. “There are reporters here.”
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