The White House is making final preparations for Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit. He’ll arrive in Washington today and is set to get the royal treatment. Hu will dine with President Obama tonight (a smallish private affair) as well as tomorrow (a big state dinner). Vice President Joe Biden will also host a lunch for the head of state. (Some, remembering the missteps of Hu’s last visit to DC four and a half years ago—such as referring to China as Taiwan—are hoping this trip is gaffe-free.)
Over the past few weeks, the administration has been laying the groundwork for the visit. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Beijing last week for meetings and was greeted with a test flight of a brand new Chinese stealth fighter jet. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stayed at home and continued to press China to open up its markets and revalue its currency, at the same time calling for a fresh start. And on Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized China’s human rights stance, including the treatment of Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobao (who is currently in jail).
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, on a private visit to DC to attend the memorial service for late U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, sat down with President Obama on Friday. The two talked about terrorism and Pakistan’s economy, but the chat was brief. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said that is because Zardari wasn't on an official public visit.
Yesterday Secretary Clinton issued a statement commending the Sudanese people for their recent referendum on the secession of southern Sudan. After seven days of voting, it looks like the southern Sudanese have voted overwhelmingly for secession. Clinton called the event a “significant achievement,” and applauded, “both northern and southern leaders for creating conditions that allowed voters to cast their ballots freely and without fear, intimidation or coercion.”
And soon after Obama’s new chief of staff William Daley, and all of his business experience, entered the White House, the president penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on the business climate. He wrote that the administration would be reviewing federal regulations, some of which “have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”