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Chinese official confronts Obama's national security adviser, an awkward G20 start for US

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 5:48 IST

A Chinese official confronted US President Barack Obama's national security adviser shortly after his plane landed in China, speaking angrily to her, prompting Obama's Secret Service to intervene.

According to an international news agency, a Chinese official attempted to prevent Barack Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice from walking to the motorcade as she crossed a media rope line. The Chinese official addressed her in an angry manner before a Secret Service agent stepped between the two.

It was unclear if the official knew that Rice was a senior official and not a reporter, says the report, adding that Rice's comments were inaudible to the reporters standing underneath the wing of Air Force One, the aircraft that carries the US President.

The same official, according to the report, shouted at a White House press aide who was instructing foreign reporters on where to stand as they recorded Obama disembarking from the plane.

"This is our country. This is our airport," the official was quoted saying in English, pointing and speaking angrily with the aide.

The stakes are high for China to pull off a trouble-free G20 summit of the world's top economies, its highest profile event of the year, as it looks to cement its global standing and avoid acrimony over a long list of tensions with Washington.

The altercation occurred out of Obama's sight, who greeted ambassadors and other officials before the presidential motorcade pulled away with Rice.

China has taken extensive security measures in preparation for the G20 summit opening on 4 September. Plus, the country is very conscious of its image, with broad control over domestic media and it prevents many foreign media outlets from publishing in the country, including by blocking their websites.

The incident is an illustration of the image-conscious ruling Communist Party's efforts to control the media as it seeks to orchestrate what it hopes will be a flawless event.

Foreign reporters are often physically prevented from covering sensitive stories, but altercations involving foreign government officials are rare, the report says.

First published: 3 September 2016, 5:46 IST