Ben Moeling serves as the Deputy Political Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China and Overall Control Officer for Secretary Clinton’s Visit.
Secretary Clinton arrived in Beijing on a cold February night after a full day in Korea. Two senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were on hand to greet her officially, but hundreds of millions of Chinese people were also eagerly tuned in. The Secretary, or “Xi-la-li” as everyone in China refers to her with a tone both of familiarity and respect, is famous in China.
Speculation about her visit has been intense. Almost every Embassy officer, from vice consuls to the Charge d’Affaires, has received inquiries about her upcoming visit. Our Political, Economic, and Environment, Science, Technology and Health sections have been working for weeks with our Chinese counterparts on the arrangements. Finally, it’s game day. The Embassy is ready.
Press from all over the world have gathered. The Chinese government is giving her an exceptionally warm welcome, and tomorrow (Sat) she will meet with the President, Premier, State Councilor and Foreign Minister.
The warm response to Secretary Clinton’s first trip to China is literally overwhelming. Already, we’ve had to improvise. Our carefully arranged plan for her to meet the staff and families of U.S. Embassy employees had to be scrapped just yesterday because the number of RSVPs shot past the maximum occupancy of the venue we’d selected for the event. Despite the fact that the Secretary’s only available window is late on a Saturday afternoon, 430 people have already said they plan to come back to the office to see her.
I have noticed an incredible energy in the team that has come together to plan and execute this visit. This is not my first “S visit,” and I am used to working with dedicated and professional colleagues, but this is somehow different. Everyone is so deeply invested in the success of this visit, no matter how big his or her job. Dozens of people have come up to me and volunteered to assist. I am excited, proud (and a little awed) to be part of it myself.
Tomorrow is going to be a big day in U.S.-China relations.
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