The Cable

Obama and Hu grip and grin; Mullen’s wife collapses

President Obama formally welcomed Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House Wednesday morning in a ceremony where the two leaders set forth their respective overarching visions of U.S.-China relations. In one brief but scary moment toward the end of the event, Deborah Mullen, the wife of Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, collapsed. She ...

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Getty Images

President Obama formally welcomed Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House Wednesday morning in a ceremony where the two leaders set forth their respective overarching visions of U.S.-China relations.

In one brief but scary moment toward the end of the event, Deborah Mullen, the wife of Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, collapsed. She got up shortly thereafter and walked back into the White House under her own power.

"Mrs. Mullen fainted this morning while attending the welcoming ceremony for President Hu," Captain John Kirby, Mullen’s special assistant for public affairs, said in an e-mailed statement. "She was escorted indoors by Adm. Mullen and quickly recovered. She is doing just fine."

The morning’s events began with patriotic renditions of classic American marches performed by "The President’s Own," also known as the U.S. Marine Band. Full color guards from all four military services and the Coast Guard assembled on the White House’s South Lawn to await the arrival of the leaders.

Among the U.S. officials spotted in attendance at the ceremony were Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, and many more.

The two presidents arrived on the South Lawn together, posed at the podium for pictures, and then reviewed the color guards before taking a brief stroll down the rope line to shake hands with Chinese-American visitors who had been preselected to attend the event.

Obama then began his remarks, which praised the last 30 years of U.S.-China cooperation following the normalization of relations that took place in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

"Looking back on that winter day in 1979, it is now clear. The previous 30 years had been a time of estrangement for our two countries. The 30 years since have been a time of growing exchanges and understanding. And with this visit we can lay the foundation for the next 30 years," Obama said.

"At a time when some doubt the benefits of cooperation between the United States and China, this visit is also a chance to demonstrate a simple truth. We have an enormous stake in each other’s success. In an interconnected world, in a global economy, nations — including our own — will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together."

Obama then invoked "harmony," the often stated goal voiced by Chinese leaders, to interject a call on China to respect universal human rights.

"History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful, and the world is more just, when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being," he said.

Hu also trumpeted, through a translator, the path of U.S.-China relations during the Obama administration, contradicting widespread feeling that relations between the two top economies soured in 2010.

"Since President Obama took office, with concerted efforts of the two sides, our cooperation in various fields has produced fruitful results and our relations have achieved new progress. This has brought real benefits to our two peoples, and contributed greatly to world peace and development," Hu said.

He then added his own not-so-subtle defense of China’s policies and made clear that his nation will be assertive in advancing its national interests.

"Our cooperation as partners should be based on mutual respect…. China and the United States should respect each other’s choice of development path and each other’s core interests," Hu said.

Outside the White House, across the street in Lafayette Park, a group of protesters chanted anti-China slogans, including, "Human rights in Tibet," "Hu Jintao; failed leader," and "Tibet was never part of China."

As the leaders retreated back into the White House for their meetings following the ceremony, a senior administration official announced a whole host of economic "deliverables" that the Chinese delegation had brought with them, including new joint ventures and deals the official said would add $45 billion to the U.S. economy in exports alone.

The main item in that announcement was the Chinese government’s approval for an order of 200 jets from Boeing, to be delivered over the next three years with a total value of $19 billion, according to the White House. Obama and Hu will meet with business leaders from both sides later on Wednesday.

Biden and Clinton will host Hu for lunch at the State Department on Wednesday and Hu will be granted a full state dinner on Wednesday night. Hu will meet with congressional leaders on Thursday before traveling to Chicago to meet with more business leaders, visit a Chinese auto parts factory, and stop by a school where American students are learning Chinese.

You can read the entire White House fact sheet on today’s economic announcements here.

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