China is anxiously preparing for US President Barack Obama's upcoming visit this weekend, but final details are still being ironed out.
The Foreign Ministry said yesterday that they expect Obama to understand China's opposition to Tibet independence, because as a black man, he would applaud Abraham Lincoln's abolishment of slavery.
After Obama took office, he noted that he would not have been able to take the highest position in the land if it were not for Lincoln's efforts, Qin Gang, the foreign ministry spokesman pointed out yesterday.
"He is a black president, and he understands the slavery abolition movement and Lincoln's major significance for that movement," said Qin. "Lincoln played an incomparable role in protecting the national unity and territorial integrity of the United States."
It's interesting how the Chinese government is trying to equate its governance over Tibet with Lincoln doing away with slavery, but in some people's eyes it has the opposite effect. China's rule over Tibet in some eyes IS like slavery -- which brings the argument that Tibetans should be freed.
And the insistence on emphasizing Obama's skin colour is really passe.
It only shows the Chinese side's desperate attempt at trying to persuade Obama to recognize Tibet is a part of China.
Another issue that may fall through is one of the first things on Obama's Shanghai visit -- to meet with some young people.
The US had hoped for a town hall-style meeting in where up to 1,000 people would attend, mostly young people, who would ask him questions, unscripted and that would be broadcasted live on television or streamed on web portals.
However, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told journalists, "We're still working out some of the details that are related to that event... Obviously the president would appreciate the opportunity to reach the broadest possible audience. That's always a priority of his."
Talks have been going on for almost two weeks and still have not been finalized. Perhaps the Chinese side was much too anxious about the unscripted part and wanted to vet the audience members as well as their questions well in advance, as they tend to do.
Are they worried about people pressing him on how the US will restructure its financial system? Arms sales to Taiwan? North Korea's nuclear weapons? Climate change?
Maybe the Chinese authorities want to do everything they can to ensure Obama's trip to China is a success. Apparently the foreign ministry is even insisting on screening all Chinese state media stories about his upcoming visit before they are published. They are even stopping stores from selling those T-shirts with Obama looking like a Red Guard.
What could go wrong? Almost all young people in China are Obama fans and everyone is hopeful the visit will give the US president a better understanding of the country and its people.
Or are they afraid all this enthusiastic fawning will overshadow President Hu's popularity?