A jazzy all-American state dinner for Chinese prez

By Nancy Benac

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 19 2011 5:20 p.m. MST

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was the only top congressional leader to accept an invitation. Many in Congress see China as an economic threat to the U.S. Pelosi also has been an outspoken critic of China's human rights record throughout her career.

At a White House news conference with Obama, Hu punted when asked to comment on the congressional leaders' absence.

"I think President Obama is certainly in a better position to answer that question," he said, drawing laughter from journalists and the U.S. and China officials seated in the East Room.

Obama punted, too.

Others on the guest list: Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to China, and state dinner uber-veteran Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state. Kissinger also was at the State Department for a lunch in Hu's honor, the same one where Streisand turned up.

After a fancy morning arrival ceremony for Hu at the White House, Mrs. Obama met with the students at Howard University to frame the day's events — both social and substantive — as an "important opportunity to strengthen ties and deepen bonds of understanding." And she encouraged young Americans to study abroad — something she never did.

The first lady said she and her brother, Craig, were among the first in their family to go to college.

"We were way more focused on getting in, getting through and getting out," she said.

Online:

Guest list:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/19/expected-attendees-tonight-s-state-dinner

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