House speaker, John A. Boehner declined an invitation to attend tonight’s official state dinner at the White House in honor of Chinese President Hu Jintao.
A spokesman for Boehner said the House speaker would be holding a substantive meeting with President Hu later this week.
Boehner has now rejected invitations to three state dinners from President Barack Obama, including meetings with the heads of state of Mexico and India.
Boehner, however, did attend a May 2007 White House affair for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip that was hosted by President George W. Bush.
Boehner might be making a political statement, given the Republican Party’s long-standing hostility to China, its rising dominance in global economic and financial markets and its human rights record.
Meanwhile, across the aisle, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Hu a “dictator” during a televised interview on Tuesday night.
“I am going to go back to Washington and meet with the President of China,” Reid said. “He is a dictator. He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have. Maybe I shouldn’t have said dictator, but they have a different type of government then we have, and that is an understatement.”