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Obama, Hu toast 'strategic mutual trust' at state dinner

Obama, Hu toast 'strategic mutual trust' at state dinner

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao toasted U.S. and Chinese collaboration and mutual interests on Wednesday night at a festive state dinner for 225 guests at the White House.

Their toasts marked the high point of an evening notable for its strict adherence to the protocol and symbolism valued in Chinese culture, but which, at the same time, managed to fulfill the Chinese delegation's request for a thoroughly American dinner party.

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Guests dined on a meal of pear salad, lobster, ribeye steak and apple pie for dessert, all of which were complemented by American wines.

In his remarks, Obama noted that despite "differences of culture and perspective," America shares with China "a reverence for family" and a "belief that, with education and hard work and with sacrifice, the future is what we make it." Obama also shared the news of a new agreement under which Washington's National Zoo "will continue to dazzle children and visitors with [China's] beloved giant pandas."

Speaking after Obama, Hu alluded more directly to bilateral discussions that have taken place over the past two days, noting through a translator that the U.S. and China had reached an "important agreement" earlier in the day to "increase contacts at the top … levels, strengthen strategic mutual trust … and step up communication and coordination on international and regional issues."

In a reference to some of the more contentious issues addressed during his visit, Hu said that both nations agreed that "we should respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and the development interests," and "properly handle differences and frictions."

The guest list represented a broad array of distinguished Chinese Americans, as well as statesmen, lawmakers, business leaders and key members of Obama's administration.


In addition to former Presidents Carter and Clinton, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz were in attendance, as was actor Jackie Chan, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and designer Vera Wang. Also on the guest list were legendary performer Barbra Streisand; Vogue editor Anna Wintour; philanthropist Wendi Murdoch, the wife of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R); House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); and Sens. John KerryJohn KerryOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change Biden, Brazil and the Amazon MORE (D-Mass.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.). Members of Obama's administration in attendance at the dinner included Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Education Arne DuncanArne Starkey DuncanEveryone's talking about a national tutoring corps; here's what we need to know to do it well More than 200 Obama officials sign letter supporting Biden's stimulus plan Biden's Education secretary must seize the bully pulpit — and quickly MORE, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and newly appointed White House Chief of Staff William Daley.

Notably absent were Republican House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Cruz hits back at Boehner for telling him to 'go f--- yourself' John Boehner tells Cruz to 'go f--- yourself' in unscripted audiobook asides: report MORE (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWho is the Senate parliamentarian and why is she important? Trumpists' assaults on Republicans who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid will help Democrats The Jan. 6 case for ending the Senate filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), all of whom declined to attend.

First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama on conversations with her daughters: 'Me and Barack, we can't get a word in' Michelle Obama offers advice with release of young readers' edition of 'Becoming' memoir Michelle Obama says 'everyone was concerned' about potential violence at Biden inauguration MORE's choice of a red, one-shouldered gown was viewed by many as an homage to the symbolism of the color red in Chinese culture, as well as a nod to the late British designer Alexander McQueen, whose label designed it.

After dinner, a reception featuring American jazz music kept guests up well past 9 p.m., grooving to the sounds of Herbie Hancock, Chris Botti, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, players from the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz and a special performance from world-renowned classical pianist Lang Lang.

(Photo: Getty Images)