Obama’s customary exit from the plane came not from the usual door high on the fuselage, but instead from a lower portal. It seems there were no higher stairs available to roll up to the usual door.
The incident seemed to be part of a tug-of-war between the country’s advance teams, which flared further over who would have the final say about where the U.S. press could be stationed during Obama’s movements within the country.
According to media pool reports, filed by correspondents traveling with the president, a confrontation between White House staff and a member of the Chinese delegation devolved into a shouting match over where reporters traveling with Obama could stand as he was exiting Air Force One.
As the pool report explains:
The Chinese, according to report, had set up a blue rope line under the wing of the plane. A Chinese official demanded the pool, which apparently was already in position behind the rope, to actually leave the arrival scene entirely.
And that’s when an unnamed U.S. official stepped in.
Luckily, that kerfuffle ended without much incident and the president’s motorcade was moving within a few minutes.
Or perhaps, that was just the end of round one.
In a subsequent pool report, there were details of yet another verbal altercation, and a scene where two Chinese officials almost came to fisticuffs with one another. It took place at a security checkpoint at Westlake Statehouse, ahead of President Obama’s arrival.
The report says American advance teams including White House staff, protocol officers and Secret Service agents, attempting to enter separately from the traveling press, engaged in “heated arguments” with Chinese officials for about 15 minutes.
Despite the turbulence, Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, managed to announce that both nations will formally commit to the declarations of last year’s Paris climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gases.