Unlike Manmohan, China’s ‘dictator’ Hu gets a cold US reception

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Washington: After the pomp and glitter of a state dinner at the White House, Chinese leader Hu Jintao headed for a chilly reception in the US Congress — quite unlike Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was warmly welcomed all the way.

Hu is scheduled to meet separately with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Republican Speaker John Boehner on January 20.

Neither man attended January 19  State dinner in honor of Hu and the third hosted by President Barack Obama after the very first one for Manmohan Singh in November 2009.

While there is bipartisan support on the Capitol Hill for India as the world’s largest democracy, Reid called Hu a “dictator” in a January 18 television interview, but quickly recanted his words.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have said dictator, but they have a different type of government than we have and that is understatement.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, also did not attend the state dinner. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did, despite being a vocal critic of China on human rights issues.

In contrast at the White House, with business in mind Obama stressed common interests between the nations rather than the differences while toasting Hu at the White House.

Hu, toasting Obama at the first formal state dinner for China in 13 years, praised the US president for bringing the two countries closer together.

But the soaring rhetoric witnessed during Manmohan Singh’s visit was missing. As Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs said on the eve of Hu visit, “India enjoys a very personal relationship with the United States and has through the administrations of President Clinton, President Bush and now President Obama; all taking important steps in visiting that country.”

In an earlier meeting behind closed doors on January 19 they differed on issues from economic issues to human rights even as they pledged cooperation to stabilise their relations and struck business deals worth a whopping $45 billion.

Unlike the joint statement issued after Obama’s visit to China in November 2009, the one this time made no direct reference to Beijing’s role in South Asia that had raised hackles in India. But it “reaffirmed their commitment to the November 2009 US — China Joint Statement.”

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