March 15, 2010
Yesterday’s post reported on the non-attendance of Premier Wen Jiabao at the small leaders’ meeting on 17 December. Wen’s explanation of what happened was the same as previously reported in the Chinese media, except that the latter said that the meeting was held by the US. Wen did not repeat this. It’s hard to understand why it should have been called by the US as President Barack Obama had not yet arrived.
According to Marl Lynas, writing in The Guardian newspaper on 22 December, the all-important meeting was on 18 December, “when heads of state from two dozen countries met behind closed doors.” Obama was there for several hours. “The Chinese premier, Wen Jinbao, did not deign to attend the meetings personally, instead sending a second-tier official in the country’s foreign ministry to sit opposite Obama himself. The diplomatic snub was obvious and brutal, as was the practical implication: several times during the session, the world’s most powerful heads of state were forced to wait around as the Chinese delegate went off to make telephone calls to his ‘superiors’.”
To add to the mystery, Wen and Obama met at length on 17 December. They instructed their chief negotiators to have further consultations, and agreed to meet again later that day
The question put to the Premier at his 14 March press conference by a Newsweek journalist referred to a key meeting attended by Obama. Wen’s reply, however, explained what happened in relation to a meeting on 17 December when the President had not yet arrived.
.Author : Stanley Crossick