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US presidential aide and Chinese official spar at airport; Obama downplays 'squabble'

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

Published: 04th September 2016 11:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2016 08:24 PM   |  A+A-

OBAMA CHINA-AP

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives on Air Force One at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province, Sept. 3, 2016. (AP)

By AP

HANGZHOU:  If President Barack Obama was hoping for a graceful start to his final trip to Asia as commander in chief, this wasn't it.

Confrontations between Chinese officials and White House staff and other diplomatic dust-ups were out in the open from the moment Air Force One landed in Hangzhou, where world leaders were attending an economic summit.

The first sign of trouble: There was no staircase for Obama to exit the plane and descend on the red carpet. Obama used an alternative exit.

On the tarmac, a quarrel broke out between a presidential aide and a Chinese official who demanded the journalists traveling with Obama be prohibited from getting anywhere near him. It was a breach of the tradition observed whenever the American president arrives in a foreign place.

When the White House official insisted the U.S. 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. Watch video here:


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