WASHINGTON — Action star Jackie Chan and pop diva Barbra Streisand topped a guest list including three presidents and political and media elites at a US state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday.
At the request of the Chinese side, the menu for the dinner honoring Hu, after a day of frank talks at the White House, was quintessentially American fare, such as poached Maine lobster and dry-aged rib eye with creamed spinach.
And nothing could be more American than the old fashioned apple pie offered as dessert in a final flourish for a meal washed down with a selection of wines from California and Washington state.
Hu, wearing a business suit, posed with President Barack Obama, in black tie, and First Lady Michelle Obama, who was wearing a flowing red and black off-the-shoulder dress, after arriving at the North Portico of the White House.
On the list of 225 guests for Obama’s third state dinner were his two predecessors as Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Previous events honored the Indian and Mexican leaders.
Henry Kissinger, the Nixon-era national security adviser and secretary of state who played key role in forging relations with communist China, was also invited.
Guests from the art world and the media included cellist Yo Yo Ma, whose parents were ethnic Chinese, and Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine.
Wendi Deng, the wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, showed up without her husband, who she said was traveling.
After-dinner entertainment was to be provided by Herbie Hancock and Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang.
Several important Washington power players who would have normally been expected at a state dinner turned down invitations amid anger on Capitol Hill over China’s human rights record and economic policies.
Senate Democratic Majority leader Harry Reid, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican House Speaker John Boehner — now the third-ranking US elected official — all chose not to attend.
But former speaker Nancy Pelosi, who now leads the Democratic House minority, was on the guest list, despite her history of fierce denunciations of China’s human rights record.