Awkward start to G20 summit as Chinese official confronts Obama’s national security adviser on tarmac

Just ahead of the G20 summit in China, an altercation reportedly took place at the Hangzhou airport tarmac when US President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice was confronted by a Chinese official. The US Secret Service had to intervene following the incident.

According to a Reuters report, soon after Obama’s Air Force One grounded in Hangzhou, a Chinese official tried to stop Rice from walking towards the official car meant for the US president. The official was seen speaking to her angrily when she crossed a barricade meant for the media.

A Secret Service agent apparently had to intervene. Reuters reported that it was not clear if the Chinese official knew who Rice was.

The same official was also spotted shouting at a White House press officer. The media aide was reportedly instructing international reporters gathered to record Obama disembarking from the aircraft to stand behind a rope line to make note of the president’s interaction without any disruption.

The official, speaking in English pointed at the press officer and said: “This is our country. This is our airport,” the news agency cited.

The incident took place at the time when world leaders are arriving in the city for the G20 summit. Beijing has been trying to avoid animosity with Washington over a long list of issues, including China’s military expansion and rejection of South China Sea dispute ruling.

China has been beefing up its security measures in preparation for the economic meet that is scheduled for 4-5 September. Certain areas in Hangzhou city was reported to be seen empty with shops shut in an otherwise busy city that has a population of 9 million people.

Obama at G20 summit
Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands during their meeting at the West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, China ahead of G20 summitREUTERS/Wang Zhao/Pool

The biggest Asian economy is also known for controlling media in the state. It has blocked several foreign media outlets’ websites and publications in the country if they fail promoting communist party’s propaganda “positively”. Some incidents in the past brought Obama to raise the issue of press freedom on his previous visits to China.

Washington and Beijing said aside their maritime and cyber disputes and announced ratifying the Paris climate change deal jointly on Saturday (3 September). – IBTimes UK

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