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Harry Reid Meets With 'Dictator' Hu Jintao -- and Reporters Are Told to Keep Mum

4 years ago
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Two days after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Chinese President Hu Jintao a "dictator" on a Nevada talk show, the two men met face to face in the Capitol on Thursday morning.

On the heels of Hu's joint press conference with President Obama yesterday -- where the tense subject of human rights dominated the discussion -- journalists covering the congressional meeting were told by staff that the two men would not take questions during a photo opportunity, and that reporters were expected to adhere to journalistic standards and codes of ethics, or risk being ejected from the room. (Presumably, this meant no questions about sensitive subjects including Reid's dictator comment and the fate of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobao.)

Hu Jintao, Harry ReidNonetheless, one reporter did manage to ask what business Reid "expected to get done with a man he had called a dictator." Neither Hu nor Reid responded. Joining the two men in a private meeting following the photo op were Chinese officials including Foreign Affairs advisors Dai Bingguo, Cui Tankai and Yang Jeichi, as well as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Richard Lugar (D-Ind.) and U.S. Ambassador to China John Huntsman.

As part of his swing through Washington -- which has been accorded the full pomp and circumstance of a state visit -- Hu traveled to Capitol Hill Thursday to meet with congressional leaders a day after the White House feted him with a state dinner.

House Speaker John Boehner, like Reid, did not attend the dinner -- his office said Boehner would instead discuss matters privately with Hu Thursday morning. (A spokesman for Reid said the Nevada Democrat could not make the dinner because he was traveling Wednesday.)

From outside indicators, Hu had a fruitful meeting with House leaders, including Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), which ran overtime and caused a delay in the Chinese president's meeting with Senate leaders. Among the subjects discussed, according to Boehner's office, were economic ties between the U.S. and China, North Korean aggression, intellectual property violations, and "human rights" issues, including China's one-child policy. Pelosi's office noted that she broached the subject of Liu Xiaobao's detention and climate change with the Chinese leader.

In his comments Tuesday, Reid said that Hu "is a dictator. He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have."

Reid quickly realized his word choice was problematic, saying: "Maybe I shouldn't have said 'dictator,' but they have a different type of government than we have and that is an understatement."
Filed Under: Senate, House, Congress, China

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as china becomes richer and more secure, it buys aircraft carriers and plans on building more, as well as a 10 fold expansion of military/space expeditures, a new stealth fighter and a carrier killer missle. sounds like they plan on remaining inwardly focused and merging their interest with ours. in a world of ever increasing demand on limited global resources, the communist chinese leadership stand the most to lose, and are therefor the most dangerous player in the game. with a population of nearly 1.4billion(nearly 3.5billion in 20yrs) that cant sustain itself domestically, its only a matter of time before they implode or agressively seek out those resouces needed to maintain the state(the state, not the people or the culture, is most important in communism). i, as an american, hope to see my nation come out on top.

January 20 2011 at 9:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

If the media was told to keep quiet why did they show up to take pictures?

January 20 2011 at 9:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Best thing he's said or done in the past 5 years

January 20 2011 at 9:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

China will do what is in the best interest of China. Sen. Reid is not the one to give any advice considering what has been done to this country these past years. Thanks Nevada for putting this guy back in office.

January 20 2011 at 8:10 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

China is now the worlds second largest economy and will soon be the first. That's bad news and good news. The bad news is that it is disturbing that such a large global player is still run by a fully authoritarian system. The good news is that the more secure China becomes in its position, the more their foreign policy interests merge with ours and the more interested they will decome in global stability and the rule of international law. Like the USA, China depends on the importation of resources and steady, stable global markets and supply chains work to their advantage. The notion that the two countries are political "enemies" is laughable as they are far too interdependent and China has a 4,000 year old history of being inwardly focused.

January 20 2011 at 6:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

What is wrong with calling a post a post? I think Harry Reid, and some others are absolutely correct in labeling Ho Jintao a dictator. The press is ready to pounce on anybody that tells the truth. . . Why is that? I believe I can tell you. . . They love to stir up a stink, and they do so religiously, in order to get more readers. . . Then, when the 'rest of the story' is printed (for those who care to read the whole article) it is disclosed that Reid was referring to the way that government (China) can do 'business,' and get a lot more accomplished (perhaps). Certainly, as he further noted, they operate quite differently from us.

January 20 2011 at 6:22 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to's comment
Gail Dukes

Hu was here as a guest of the United States. His meeting was with the President, not Reid. For Reid to call him a dictator was out of line. I'm sure that both Reid and Hu know that we have different types of government. What a lame excuse.

January 21 2011 at 9:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

1.3 billion of the 1.4 billion are starving, illiterate slaves, hoping for a change. china is much more dependent on us and western europe than we are on them. they are the largest food importer on hte planet, and now are starving for fuel. a one month stoppage of food imports and fuel imports in china would cause mass chaos and revolution(not the kinda commies like re: romania). to "prosper", the chinese economy is dependent on importing all their basic needs and exporting cheap consumer goods with slave labor. they export cheap clothing, tainted food, toxic toys and consumer electronics. we receive nothing from china we cant manufacture ourselves or do without. as long as they use slaves, manipulate currencey and steal our technology, why reward them with free trade deals. when they treat us as an equal trade partner, then we can talk. as far as our debt to china, let them eat it if they cant play fair. we can repay our friends but why pay someone who is stealing from you. as far as us aggresiveness and war mongering, i have yet to see any statement of us military aggressiveness in the region. china, though numerous, is a paper tiger in terms of military technology. a cyber attack is a real threat, but a military war, they couldnt sustain a war economy for more than a month without collapse(mass starvation and fuel shortages).

January 20 2011 at 5:11 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

I'm sure Mr. Ried was just doing his duty trying to pay off some of our debt. Probably by giving away more military secrets like Clinton did. It's been over a decade. Bet we had some juicy ones to cough up!

January 20 2011 at 5:04 PM Report abuse +16 rate up rate down Reply

How can journalists do their job when they are told not to ask questions? Harry Reid is not that important. We have freedom of the press but cannot use it around certain World leaders. If World leaders cannot tolerate our lifestyle, they can stay home. What was the real purpose of the photo op? Our nation's weakness is laughed at by the World.

January 20 2011 at 4:18 PM Report abuse +23 rate up rate down Reply
John Vilvens

In china government tells reports what to say. In america liberals tell media what to say. Before we condemn china for anything we should look at what this country is doing. Liberal are insulting a socialist government in america, china is moving toward capitalism. The government in america is stopping drilling for oil, toke permits from coal companies in west virginia to raise price so green energy will be able to compete. To bad for people on fixed imcome they can choose between food and heat. They pass bill against the will of the people and they cannot pass it they put it thru the back door. So which country is worse?

January 20 2011 at 3:11 PM Report abuse +19 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John Vilvens's comment

keep dreaming, I wonder what john boehner was up too!

January 20 2011 at 5:59 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

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