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01.18.11

China and America's 8 Biggest Gaffes

While the Obama team is focused on securing military and monetary cooperation from President Hu Jintao at this week’s White House summit, the Chinese side is obsessed with protocol and “gaining face,” says Newsweek’s Melinda Liu. And it’s no wonder, considering the flubs of previous visits, from Deng Xiaoping insulting Shirley MacLaine to Mikhail Gorbachev’s accidental witnessing of Tiananmen Square.

President Obama and the first lady welcomed Chinese President Hu Jintao to Washington on Wednesday for his first official state visit to the U.S. The two leaders met on the south lawn of the executive mansion, with a color guard, lawmakers and cabinet members looking on. “The previous 30 years have been a time of estrangement for our two countries, the 30 years since have been a time of growing engagement,” Obama said. “With this visit we can lay the foundation for the next 30 years.” Hu’s visit will include a press conference, a black-tie dinner and meetings with executives from leading American companies, like Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical and Carlyle Group. The heads of state are expected to discuss some of the contentious issues between the two countries—which do $400 billion in trade annually—including China’s human rights record, valuation of the Yuan, and intellectual property rights. “Our cooperation as partners should be based on mutual respect,” Hu said. “China and the United States should respect each other’s development path.”

While the Obama team is focused on securing military and monetary cooperation from President Hu Jintao at this week’s White House summit, the Chinese side is obsessed with protocol and “gaining face,” says Newsweek’s Melinda Liu. And it’s no wonder, considering the flubs, from Harry Reid calling Hu a "dictator" to Deng Xiaoping insulting Shirley MacLaine. Plus, Huang Hung on China's absurd advertisements in Times Square and Photos from Hu Jintao Visits the U.S.

Gallery: China and America’s Biggest Gaffes