When is a snub not a snub? When team Obama wants to pretend that all is well and the NY Times wants to play along:
Obama Plays Down Confrontation With China Over His Plane’s Stairs
By Mark Landler and Jane Perlez Sept 5 2016
HANGZHOU, China — When Air Force One taxied to a stop in eastern China on Saturday afternoon, American and Chinese officials had already engaged in a lengthy, heated dispute over the most mundane of issues: How would the president depart his plane?
China’s handling of President Obama’s arrival for the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hangzhou has created a narrative that the Chinese snubbed the American president. Some Beijing-controlled news outlets are pushing back, fanning nationalist anger by accusing the Americans of arrogance in the squabble.
The reality, American officials and diplomats familiar with China say, is both simpler and more complicated.
See, her parents were coming out on Sunday and they have been worried about her health, so she really needed to pull herself together... oh, wait:
The United States military had flown in a set of rolling air stairs, as it does on all of Mr. Obama’s foreign trips, and the White House had received Chinese approval to use the equipment. But before Mr. Obama’s arrival, a senior administration official said, the Chinese suddenly reversed themselves.
The Americans were willing to use a Chinese stairway, this official said, but the Chinese insisted that the stairs be taken to the plane by a local driver, who the Americans said could not communicate with the White House team about even the simplest tasks. So the White House demanded that he be replaced with an English-speaking driver, a request the Chinese refused.
As Air Force One was landing, the Chinese relented and told the Americans they could use their own stairs. But by then, officials said, there was no time to make a switch.
So it never dawned on the Chinese that this to-ing and fro-ing might prevent a Grand Entrance by Obama. Just bad luck and poor communication. Of course, if the famously subtle Chinese had really wanted to embarrass Obama the Times would have had no trouble finding someone willing to go on the record and say so; since everyone was denying that as their intention, well, they must be telling the absolute truth.
Fine, no one, not even Hu Fuk Nos, ordered the Code Red and all is well. Whatever.
Administration officials disputed the suggestion that the staircase incident was part of a broader attempt to humiliate Mr. Obama. Instead, they said, it reflected how on edge the Chinese have been in hosting the Group of 20, a major summit meeting involving dozens of world leaders.