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Did Michelle Obama Do a Political Snub On Peng Liyuan?

The Chinese blogsphere is rife with indignation on how Michelle Obama pulled a Political Snub On Peng Liyuan.  Apparently, Michelle decided to attend her daughter’s 12th birthday party in Washington instead of be in California to host Liyuan for the pivotal bilateral meeting between presidents’ Obama and Xi.

Here is a report from Sky News, with quotes from Chinese netizens.

Michelle Obama ‘Snubs’ China’s Peng Liyuan

Michelle Obama’s decision to attend her daughter’s birthday party rather than meet China’s First Lady may be a missed opportunity.

obamapeng

In the world of international diplomacy, the relationship between leaders’ wives can be just as important as the relationship between the leaders themselves.

The first meeting between the Chinese and American First Ladies has been anticipated, in China at least, for more than a year now.

Even before Xi Jinping became China’s President, there was excited chatter in China about the prospect of his wife, Peng Liyuan, standing next to the glamorous Michelle Obama.

That moment should have come today. But in what is already being described as a supremely arrogant diplomatic snub, Mrs Obama has apparently pulled out.

She is not in California for the pivotal bilateral meeting between presidents’ Obama and Xi, choosing instead to attend her daughter’s 12th birthday party in Washington.

On Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, the reaction ranges from disappointment to conspiracy-fuelled anger.

“Michelle’s decision is so unreasonable. It’s like going to somebody’s house to visit but the wife decides not to receive the guest,” said one user.

“Is it possible, like Putin’s family, that the first family in America has some marriage problems?” suggested another.

Chinese President Jinping and First Lady Liyuan bid farewell as they board their plane to depart from the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Xi Jinping with his wife on a trip to South Africa

“Michelle’s absence is actually a good thing. It gives the opportunity to show that the US/China relationship is just a fantasy,” another wrote.

“China has put its warm face to America’s cold backside,” added one more.

To understand the fuss, a little background on the Chinese/US relationship is needed as well as and an introduction to Peng Liyuan.

Ms Peng stands world’s apart from her predecessors. The wives of China’s previous presidents were unremarkable, drab shadows. Most Chinese would struggle to name them.

But the new First Lady is glamorous, charismatic and a star in her own right. She is a famous singer and, oddly, a general in the Chinese army.

Her CDs are available in music stores across China. She is a leader’s wife that China is genuinely proud of.

China’s relationship with the United States is at a critical moment. America is pivoting its attention towards Asia, countering China’s dominance there. China’s people and its government see that as a threat.

Add to that tensions over cyber-attacks by both counties on each other and there is lots for Mr Obama and Mr Xi to talk about and resolve.

Had Mrs Obama turned up to the party, the front-page photos, the gossip columns and even the editorials would have focused on the ladies; their dresses, their hand-bags and their body language.

The two women, whose power as first ladies is undeniable could have cultivated their own relationship.

Their husband’s diplomacy, successful or otherwise, would have featured rather lower on the news agenda.

Now though, the focus will be on an apparent snub, which has left a world leader’s wife awkwardly in the lurch.

The Americans insist that Mrs Obama pulled out weeks ago. Perhaps, but from China’s point of view this smacks of American arrogance.

It is certainly aloof and appears to be a golden opportunity to mend a relationship, missed.

Here is another report from the Australian.

In Diplomacy, symbolism is important – even for informal events such as this.  And the birthday party excuse is kind of lame.  According  to this wikipedia entry, Natasha’s (known as Sasha) birthday is June 10, 2001.  The so-called xi-obama summit is set for June 7 – 8.  Does Michelle really need that much time to plan for the party?  Washington DC is but a 5 hour flight away from Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California near San Diego.  Does Michelle really need to be away?  Or did Obama intentionally want her to stay away?

  1. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 08:02 | #1

    It is a snub, but Xi doesn’t need to respond back.

    US politicians like to play such “childish games”.

    If Xi wants to respond back, I would suggest a subtle approach:

    (1) show up to the meeting, but also leave his wife in the hotel.

    (2) show up to the meeting, with a mountain of gifts, (and no wife), and say, “we know First Lady Michelle really love presents for her children, so we brought a ton, and our First lady is now in NY City, buying more, in case it’s not enough for Michelle.”

    (3) spend the entire summit discussing the birth day party for Obama’s kid.

    *Hey, if they want to waste time with the non-sense, let’s just waste time (China has time, if US wants to wait).

  2. Zack
    June 7th, 2013 at 08:28 | #2

    let’s put this in perspective. We have a meeting between a rising superpower and a declining superpower where some form of an entente is to be negotiated, and in the leadup, the american side decide that they might want to keep the Chinese off balance by having Michele Obama ‘be called away to something as trivial as a child’s birthday party’ when (and i can’t stress this enough) THE ENTIRE FATE OF THE UNITED STATES/CHINA RELATIONSHIP IS AT STAKE.

    i can’t see this stunt making the Xi team conducive to any of Obama’s needs and wants.

  3. Hong Konger
    June 7th, 2013 at 08:34 | #3

    I don’t see what the big deal is with First Ladies in general. They are not political leaders, they do not have any official powers. They are accessories to their spouses — good for photo ops, political campaigning, community services (school visits, health-related campaigns) and fodder for magazines to gush about their fashion choices, children, etc. Yes, they are prominent in the public eye, but they wield no actual power.

    By the way, that’s not a comment on women in poltics in general — I am a woman myself. But just saying that “bringing the wives along” should not be the focus of serious talks between two superpowers.

    It’s not like Xi went to the White House and Michelle Obama refused to greet them. Why should she be obliged to fly out to California just to meet someone? She’s not the president, and she is not always there when Obama meets leaders outside DC. He meets plenty of important people with or without her.

    Both the Western media, and the Chinese blogosphere, seem oddly fixated on this. One of my friends joked that it sounded more like someone was planning a “double date” than a summit meeting.

    What’s more baffling to me is the Chinese public reaction. Why do they care so much about the wife of a foreign leader — more so, it seems, that the serious issues on the table. Is it the Chinese obsession with “face”? Does it show a certain lack of self-confidence — that they need some symbolic gesture from a Western power to feel respected on the world stage? Why can’t they just cooly, confidently take it in stride? So someone’s wife doesn’t show up — that’s no need for Chinese people to feel bad about things. They should just hold their heads up high and focus on what their leader is doing to do.

  4. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 08:35 | #4

    @Zack

    Yeah, I agree.

    Like I said, I would suggest to Xi to just SMILE and SAY NOTHING (except for discussing the Birthday parties for the kids).

    (Passive aggressively): Oh Hi Mr. President. How are you? How old are your kids now? Wow, they do grow up so fast.

    What? Economics? Did your kids take that class in school already? My they are growing up to be so smart.

    You and Michelle are doing such great jobs in teaching your kids how to be responsible adults, for example, showing them how to plan their birthday parties in advance, deal with guests, budgets, etc., to get the most without wasting anyone’s money or time.

    You know, we can all learn a lot from you guys.

    🙂

  5. Hong Konger
    June 7th, 2013 at 08:37 | #5

    @Black Pheonix What good would that do? Two major leaders meet up when so much is at stake, and China gets all sulky about someone’s wife and wastes precious time making passive-aggressive comments about birthday parties and children’s gifts? I think both Xi and Obama are more mature than that.

    It’s a summit meeting, not ladies’ tea time.

  6. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 08:41 | #6

    “What’s more baffling to me is the Chinese public reaction. Why do they care so much about the wife of a foreign leader — more so, it seems, that the serious issues on the table. Is it the Chinese obsession with “face”? Does it show a certain lack of self-confidence — that they need some symbolic gesture from a Western power to feel respected on the world stage? Why can’t they just cooly, confidently take it in stride? So someone’s wife doesn’t show up — that’s no need for Chinese people to feel bad about things. They should just hold their heads up high and focus on what their leader is doing to do.”

    Because every one knows the US White House is extremely careful in controlling its PR messages.

    It’s not just the “face”, it’s a SLAP on the face. I don’t think it’s lack of self-confidence to complain when someone insults you, (or cut in line in front of you).

    “Why can’t they just cooly, confidently take it in stride?”

    They are, but they can still complain about it. It’s not like 10,000 of them are doing a bon fire protest over it.

  7. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 08:46 | #7

    @Hong Konger

    “What good would that do? Two major leaders meet up when so much is at stake, and China gets all sulky about someone’s wife and wastes precious time making passive-aggressive comments about birthday parties and children’s gifts? I think both Xi and Obama are more mature than that.
    It’s a summit meeting, not ladies’ tea time.”

    Not sulky, I said SMILE.

    Nothing wrong with “passive aggressive”, It’s called diplomacy. China has the time on its side, US is obviously trying to pretend that it also has the time on its side. So, time to call their bluff in negotiations.

    One does not go into a diplomatic meeting appearing NEEDY to start talking. It simply weakens one’s position.

    Yeah, it’s a “summit meeting”, doesn’t mean the Chinese leaders need to be stupid and forget the rules of the DIPLOMATIC GAME.

  8. Hong Konger
    June 7th, 2013 at 08:59 | #8

    I think it’s only a slap in the face if you see it that way. And if the wife skipping out because of a birthday party is some major piece in the Sino-US “game”, then we are all in trouble.

    I presume you’re in the US? Maybe, as a Chinese-American, you want to have that “face” from the First Lady.

    None of the Chinese people I know here really care. Yes, they are watching the Xi-Obama talks closely. And maybe it would have been nice to see Michelle Obama in the photo op, so everyone can chatter whether she wore an American designer, and Xi’s wife wore a Chinese designer. (There’s already silly gossip over whether Peng uses an iPhone). But nobody seems particularly insulted. I think this is a story the media blew up out of nothing.

    Honestly, I cannot remember whether the wives of Cameron, Abe, Holland, Putin, etc, met with the wives of Chinese leaders before, particularly in meetings outside national capitals. It just doesn’t seem that important to me.

    If Obama and his wife flew to, say, that major meeting in Chengdu going on right now to meet with Xi, and Xi’s wife wasn’t there, would any Americans even really notice? Do they need that reassurance that Obama is given “face”?

  9. Hong Konger
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:12 | #9

    My major question is how Obama is going to bring up Chinese hacking allegations due to the whole NSA fiasco blowing up in his administration’s face right now. Or is he going to just conveniently skip over that?

    That’s way more interesting than whether Michelle and Peng meet up for lunch.

  10. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:15 | #10

    @Hong Konger

    “I think it’s only a slap in the face if you see it that way. And if the wife skipping out because of a birthday party is some major piece in the Sino-US “game”, then we are all in trouble.”

    That’s how “diplomacy” is played. I would love for politicians to play more “rationally” with each other, but if you want China to be the ONLY rational one, then that’s just plainly stupid.

    “None of the Chinese people I know here really care.”

    Well, that’s their choice. Diplomats have to be more realistic, and READ between every move of the other side.

    “Honestly, I cannot remember whether the wives of Cameron, Abe, Holland, Putin, etc, met with the wives of Chinese leaders before, particularly in meetings outside national capitals. It just doesn’t seem that important to me.”

    That might be your faulty memory. First Ladies generally attend state ceremonies to greet foreign leaders (and their wives) on visits. You can find evidence on plenty of Youtube videos.

    “If Obama and his wife flew to, say, that major meeting in Chengdu going on right now to meet with Xi, and Xi’s wife wasn’t there, would any Americans even really notice? Do they need that reassurance that Obama is given “face”?”

    You are positing a scenario that hasn’t happened, and isn’t likely to happen. And we are not talking about Xi’s wife merely “wasn’t there”. We are talking about Michelle Obama CANCELLING a scheduled greeting, which she had previously been scheduled for, OVER the obvious excuse of her kid’s birthday!

    She can’t even come up with a LESS LAME excuse than that (Given that she was a trained attorney)??!! Seriously??!!

  11. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:16 | #11

    @Hong Konger

    “My major question is how Obama is going to bring up Chinese hacking allegations due to the whole NSA fiasco blowing up in his administration’s face right now. Or is he going to just conveniently skip over that?
    That’s way more interesting than whether Michelle and Peng meet up for lunch.”

    Well, I guess Michelle will have missed the opportunity to ask the same question. I guess Americans just don’t care about Women’s opinions.

    *And I have a serious problem with your suggestion that somehow all the First Ladies do is have “lunch”.

    Michelle has no input in policies?! She can’t help with building the relationship with China, other than “lunch”??!!

    Wow! I think you are defining a stereotype for yourself (and other women) now.

  12. Hong Konger
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:44 | #12

    Black Phoenix – As probably the only regular female commenter on this site, I have to say that I have a greater vested interest in women than anyone else here!

    Of course I support professional women, as one myself. And if Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, was not there to meet China’s top diplomat, that would be a true slap. Because that would have been her job.

    The problem is not women in general. It’s these “political wives” who are mostly used as media fodder.

    I like Michelle Obama. But aside from her great initiatives for kids’ education and healthy, I don’t see why she is a major player in foreign policy. I also never got the slavish coverage over whether Carla Bruni got fat in pregnancy, whether Tony Blair’s wife was kind of dowdy, etc.

    I just don’t see why everyone is pulling their hair out out over this. When Peng went to Moscow, there was barely a peep in the Russian media, and Putin’s wife didn’t show either. (Though we now know why that is…)

    I don’t see why Chinese netizens are so desperate over this. Why all the wailing? I don’t think it’s the diplomatic reasons you bring up. I think many Chinese still feel uneasy on the world stage, and want some sort of confidence boost from well-known Western figures. And I think that’s silly.

    Allen got it right in the original post. For so long, Chinese leaders’ wives were direly boring. They were never in the media, they never did or said anything exciting, and outside of China, nobody even knew their names.

    Finally, for the first time in generations, China has produced a First Lady who (by the very superficial standards by which women are judged) is “presentable.” She’s pretty and slim, not chubby and matronly. She spends money on designer goods, instead of wearing those 80s-style Mao pantsuits. She sings well and looks elegant holding a wine glass. She’d be great at a cocktail party!

    She’s been called “China’s Michelle Obama” and “China’s Kate Middleton” — because the Chinese still feel the need to mold their own figures after people in the West.

    And now, the Chinese are eager to show off their shiny new figure. I think that’s all there is to it.

    Hopefully, when the Chinese get a bit more confident — when they start producing more interesting, charismatic female figures — it won’t be such a big deal anymore.

  13. Charles Liu
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:44 | #13

    Love them media POV pushing with this “Chinese netter reaction” bit. To say it’s “extremely anecdotal” is an understatement. For every China netter that was quoted, there’s at least 1 that voiced an alternative view, and roughly half a billion that don’t care.

    Anyways, Peng will now have substantive face time with Barak Obama, instead of being relegated to the sideline with Michelle Obama, comparing arm sag (not even fair), or how expensive her watch and jewelry are to Michelle’s Gap outfit, as proof of corruption.

  14. June 7th, 2013 at 09:45 | #14

    @Hong Konger

    My major question is how Obama is going to bring up Chinese hacking allegations due to the whole NSA fiasco blowing up in his administration’s face right now. Or is he going to just conveniently skip over that?

    That’s way more interesting than whether Michelle and Peng meet up for lunch.

    Actually I wouldn’t think that more interesting. This whole China are these ultra threatening cyber bad guys is beyond my head. The U.S. is the ultimate cyber intruder. The U.S. makes and controls the technology running the Internet. The Chinese companies and gov’t for the most part depend on U.S. software. The cyberattack bogeyman is just the most recent slander against China – now that the Yuan bogeyman has become out of fashion.

    As Peter Lee noted recently,

    The United States has been methodically hyping the Chinese cyber-threat since November 2011, systematically escalating the attributions, the accusations, and the anxiety from initial suspicions of non-state hacking maybe originating in China to current declarations that the Chinese government and military execute a massive state-directed hacking program against US commercial, governmental, and military assets.

    A climax of sort will be reached in Sunnylands when President Obama officially gets into Xi Jinping’s grill and provides a dossier of alleged Chinese cyber-outrages and the costs they have inflicted on US businesses.

    The US cyber-position is rife with contradictions, starting with the fact that the United States – with its technological assets, its central position in the world communications infrastructure, the National Security Agency’s pressing need to build server farms the size of the Astrodome to store the petabytes of data it has accidentally stumbled across (which, by US law, is supposed to exclude communications inside the United States), and the fact that the United States followed up its proud record of nuclear first use at Hiroshima to become the first use state for cyber-weapons with Stuxnet, the attack on Iranian centrifuge facilities – is the king of covert cyber-activity.

    Today, the traditional narrative that “Chinese companies beat out US companies because of an unfair exchange rate advantage” has been superseded by the borderline racist “Chinese companies can’t innovate and can only succeed by stealing US secrets” reboot.

    The Obama administration’s high-profile jihad against Chinese hacking would appear to be an exercise in futility from a legal/diplomatic perspective.

    Given the opaque nature of the Internet, it is unlikely that the United States will ever be able to document Chinese cyber-intrusion to a degree sufficient for an international commercial tribunal, let alone achieve the level of proof needed to launch a cyber-attack or cruise missile under international law. But that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    What President Obama is presumably threatening is unilateral, discretionary, and unattributable off-the-books cyber-retaliation by executive order for cyber-infractions unless Xi acts on his dossier.

    Things get better, in other words, or things get messed up.

    Not exactly the Platonic ideal of justice, but extremely useful to the United States: it can unilaterally define the crime, attribute it, demand punishment, and, inevitably, declare that the punishment was insufficiently thorough and sincere, in a fashion that will be immediately familiar to anyone who recalls the US campaign against Iraq’s WMDs and Iran’s nuclear program.

    I expect that, for the sake of improving relations with the United States, President Xi will consider accepting the dossier and ordering up a few cyber-sacrifices in the digital arena. Accepting the dossier and “doing something” will be a relatively momentous step for Xi, if he undertakes it. If the PRC acknowledges the validity of US cyber-complaints the issue will never, ever go away (unless a new, even more effective instrument of China bashing materializes).

  15. Hong Konger
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:48 | #15

    @Charles Liu I totally agree with you. This is media-generated fluff. Look hard enough, and you can find online comments to back up anything if you’re selective enough.

    I also don’t want to see First Ladies comparing arm sag, or netizens trying to figure out which woman’s outfit cost more. Let’s talk serious politics instead.

  16. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:50 | #16

    @Hong Konger

    “When Peng went to Moscow, there was barely a peep in the Russian media, and Putin’s wife didn’t show either. (Though we now know why that is…)”

    Another good reason for Putin to divorce his wife Lyudmila, who rarely makes public appearances. But that only said also that Lyudmila is IN the HABIT of not appearing in public!

    And Russian Media did go into weeks of speculation AHEAD of time, on whether Lyudmila would show up!!

    *See the importance of that appearance??!

    “I also don’t see why Chinese netizens are so desperate for the pat on the head. So what is someone doesn’t show? Why all the wailing? I don’t think it’s the diplomatic reasons you bring up. I think many Chinese still feel inferior and picked on, and want some sort of confidence boost from well-known Western figures. And I think that’s silly.”

    It’s “common courtesy”, not a pat on the head.

    Canceling an Official function for a kid’s birthday, That’s LAME!

    I think you are projecting your own feeling of inferiority. Chinese people online are just mocking Michelle’s LAME excuse. Nobody said Michelle couldn’t cancel for a valid reason (death in the family might be a good one if true). So, Chinese people are not expecting “pat on the head” as you called it! They just feel insulted by a LAME excuse!! AS if Chinese people are so stupid as to be convinced by a “Kid’s birthday party” excuse!

    “I also think Allen got it right in the original post. For so long, Chinese leaders and their wives were direly boring. They were never in the media, they never did any thing exciting, and outside of China, nobody even knew the spouse’s names.”

    I don’t know WHERE you are getting your conclusions from. Allen said symbolism is important (even in informal functions), and Michelle’s excuse was LAME!! I don’t think Allen said anything like what you just wrote, (right after you wrote his name, implying that he said these things).

    “And now, the Chinese are eager to show off their shiny new figure. Honestly, I think that’s all there is to it.”

    Yeah, there you go again, stereotyping people.

  17. Hong Konger
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:53 | #17

    @Allen Well, maybe Xi can push Obama on NSA, electronic surveillance, getting phone records, and free speech. That would be interesting.

  18. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:54 | #18

    Hong Konger :

    @Charles Liu I totally agree with you. This is media-generated fluff. Look hard enough, and you can find online comments to back up anything if you’re selective enough.

    I also don’t want to see First Ladies comparing arm sag, or netizens trying to figure out which woman’s outfit cost more. Let’s talk serious politics instead.

    Charles wrote “Love them media POV pushing with this “Chinese netter reaction” bit. To say it’s “extremely anecdotal” is an understatement.”

    You know he was talking about you, right??!

  19. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 09:58 | #19

    @Hong Konger

    “Well, maybe Xi can push Obama on NSA, electronic surveillance, getting phone records, and free speech. That would be interesting.”

    Yeah, Xi can push. But may be Xi is worried that Obama is “not all there”. Maybe Obama’s are having marital problems, like Putins.

  20. Hong Konger
    June 7th, 2013 at 10:05 | #20

    @Black Pheonix Hahahaha. Maybe all those catty teen girls on the Chinese Internet are right. One missed Chinese summit meeting, and it’s divorce-time in the White House.

    Right – Enough gossip before we start talking about First Ladies’ diets and gym tips. I’m logging off and going to bed!

  21. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 10:09 | #21

    “Maybe all those catty teen girls on the Chinese Internet are right. One missed Chinese summit meeting, and it’s divorce-time in the White House.
    Right – Enough gossip before we start talking about First Ladies’ diets and gym tips. I’m logging off and going to bed!”

    Actually, that’s the US Conservative pundit’s speculation /dream.

    How many times have we heard them talk about the LOOK that Michelle gave Obama on this-or-that event??

    Where have you been in the last 4 years?

    OK, here you go to catch up: http://www.rightwingnews.com/barack-obama/the-enquirer-michelle-is-angry-at-barack-for-going-on-a-date-with-oprah/

  22. pug_ster
    June 7th, 2013 at 10:17 | #22

    American politics are like soap operas and this Michelle Obama’s excuse not coming is just another episode. I think it is rather funny by the Western Propaganda’s response unlike Bush, Hu meeting at April 2006. However, at least Bush understands China’s needs whereas Obama is nothing but a backstabber wearing a suit.

    Western Propaganda makes up all this fake allegations of 6/4, Cyberhacking, pacific ‘cooperations’, and north Korea rouse in order to get China to comply with their demands. Of course, Obama has nothing really to sell to Xi anyways and know that Obama is nothing but a snakeoil salesman in a suit.

  23. Black Pheonix
    June 7th, 2013 at 10:34 | #23

    Xi actually agreed to this informal setting to meet in California (instead in DC as usual official trips), to be flexible, and to be nice.

    Oh, on that inch given, Michelle decides to take another mile, by not attending altogether, and then make up a lame excuse for it.

    Yeah, that’s real “give and take”.

    Xi gives, and Michelle takes some more.

    Doesn’t that just sum up the current China-US relationship?

    Well, Xi is no push-over. He didn’t climb the political ladder of all of China, just to have other people walk all over him.

    He knows he has the cards. If Michelle can come up with LAME excuses, Xi can do more convincing excuses.

  24. June 7th, 2013 at 10:50 | #24

    To follow up on my previous comment .

    Here are some of our recent posts on the unsubstantiated (and funny?) allegations of hacking by China.

    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/tag/hacking/

  25. pug_ster
    June 7th, 2013 at 15:12 | #25

    Chinese ‘hacking’ is nothing but a false flag for big brother USA to tell you that NSA snooping on your data is ‘protecting’ you. The worst thing is that snakeoil salesman Obama is making up excuses why are they doing it. Every idiotic hacking incident they can’t even provide any proof that the Chinese government are doing it.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/obama-cyber-memo_n_3404916.html

    If China wants to ‘steal’ vital secrets from the US, hacking is definitely a dumb way to do it because it leaves digital footprints. China would probably do it the old fashioned way like what US, Russia, Israel, most of Western Europe does in the past, that is to bribe some slub working for the government/defense industry to get it for them.

  26. June 7th, 2013 at 22:17 | #26

    Sasha’s birthday is on Monday and the Xis are leaving either Saturday night or Sunday morning. As an excuse not to go to meet the Xis for Michelle Obama, that’s quite a stretch. I don’t buy the view of “slap on the face”, “snub” — quite frankly to anybody who has observed the Obama presidency, it’s quite likely that Michelle just didn’t want to be bothered.

    Obama made a point of always trying to go home for family dinners whenever possible, because he didn’t want to miss his daughters’ childhood. He had skipped/delayed war plannings or major legislative discussion meetings to attend something like a daughter’s school play. For a charm life as a university senior lecturer or a community organizer, that’s commendable, but as an American president, that’s borderline dereliction of duty. Washington is a place that requires a lot of schmoozing, especially by the boss. Bill Clinton was famously working on a congressman’s vote on the phone while being blown by Lewinsky. However this boss’ signature move is the perpetual campaign mode. Instead of working the congress, whenever he can, the boss wants to take it to the American people, i.e. reading some punchy lines from the teleprompter in front of a TV camera. In his presidency, Washington has been quite possibly the most dysfunctional place ever, but of course that’s not because of him, but rather the obstructionism of his political opponents who got the memo but didn’t quite fully appreciate the hope and change.

    It may not be a lot, but if Michelle is to go to Rancho Mirage to meet the Xis, it certainly should help advancing America’s interest. At the very least, it would’ve developed a better rapport with the Chinese first couple, which should come in handy down the road. But, SoCal is so far away even via the Air Force One, and of course Sasha’s 12th birthday will require days of advanced planning.

  27. N.M.Cheung
    June 7th, 2013 at 22:28 | #27

    Actually China has been underplaying the first lady bit recent years because of Jiang Qing. While it’s much more important in the West to showcase their spouses for public relation, in China the official meetings usually exclude any mention of the spouses. Recently with the arrival in Beijing of Iceland’s female president and her female companion there was some speculation of how China would manage to finesse it. I lost track of how it came off but CCTV 9 didn’t mention her companion in their reports. With meeting of major head of states, if one brings a spouse, usually etiquette demands the spouse of the receiving head of state be the host for some side events. So with Michelle skipping the event is somewhat surprising. I don’t think the Chinese delegation would make hay on it, but republican pundits will bound to jump on it.

  28. June 13th, 2013 at 09:44 | #28

    Following up on my previous comment to Hong Konger

    This whole China are these ultra threatening cyber bad guys is beyond my head. The U.S. is the ultimate cyber intruder. The U.S. makes and controls the technology running the Internet. The Chinese companies and gov’t for the most part depend on U.S. software. The cyberattack bogeyman is just the most recent slander against China – now that the Yuan bogeyman has become out of fashion.

    This article titled “Inside the NSA’s Ultra-Secret China Hacking Group” from Foreign Policy (you will have to register (free) to access the article) now further backs up this position – and the official Chinese gov’t’s claim that it is more a victim than a perpetrator of cyber hacking.

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