The answer, of course, is both.
It astounds me that with all of the personnel and resources available to the White House and the State Department, we can't do a more competent job of hosting a visit by a foreign head of state.
Hu's Visit: Bush's Chinese Diplomacy - Lost in Translation," by Melinda Liu (in Beijing) and Richard Wolffe (in Washington) - Newsweek, 1 May 2006 issue
President Hu Jintao can take comfort in one thing: most Chinese didn't see the excruciating reception he got at the White House. Not right away, that is. The state-controlled news media gave viewers at home only carefully chosen glimpses of last week's U.S. trip. Despite the concerted efforts of Beijing's 30,000-odd cybercops, however, the painful details—with streaming video—flashed among the country's Internet users. "To summarize my feelings while watching this live news: I felt like I was raped," wrote one participant in Tianya, a mainland-based Web forum. "But I don't know who did it, nor even where my pain is."
For face-conscious Chinese, the visit was a problem even before it began. Hu's retinue had hoped for a full state dinner. Instead, they had to settle for a luncheon. That snub was intentional, at least. A series of unplanned slights and slurs compounded it. The arrival ceremony on the East Lawn began with the event's American announcer misidentifying Hu's home country as "the Republic of China"—the formal name for Taiwan, the island state that for the past half century has been a major source of dispute between the United States and the People's Republic of China. (Bush's aides said the Chinese translation gave the country's correct name.)
The announcer's gaffe was overshadowed almost immediately when Hu tried to deliver his opening speech, only to be interrupted by a human-rights heckler who had slipped in using temporary press credentials. "President Hu, your days are numbered!" she screamed. She kept on shouting for several minutes until Secret Service guards ushered her away.
In the Oval Office afterward, Hu got a personal apology from his host. "This was unfortunate, and I'm sorry this happened," Bush said. Those words may pose a challenge to official translators in Beijing: the Chinese language offers at least four delicately calibrated ways to say "sorry," and the state-run press will need to consider precisely which shade of U.S. regret will save the most face for Hu. Even though the incident itself was blacked out in China, word of it is spreading quickly from Internet users to the unplugged masses. Some forum participants suggested that the heckler's outburst was part of an American plot—even though she spent the night in jail....
"In Hu's Visit to the US, Small Gaffes May Overshadow Small Gains," by Joseph Kahn - the New York Times, 22 April 2006
WASHINGTON, April 21 — The Chinese president, Hu Jintao, wound up a four-day visit to the United States on Friday with a foreign policy address at Yale that offered an upbeat vision of Chinese-American ties, as the two sides tried to shake off the lingering effects of protocol blunders during the White House reception for Mr. Hu.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington sent a delegation to the White House on Friday to demand a detailed explanation of how an adherent of the Falun Gong spiritual sect, which is banned in China, managed to infiltrate the welcome ceremony for Mr. Hu on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday and heckle Mr. Hu for several minutes before being escorted away.
While Mr. Hu appeared unfazed by the disruption and continued with his planned events Thursday and Friday, some analysts said the security breach might end up heightening the distrust between the nations that the visit had been intended to dispel.
"I'm worried that this could end up being the legacy of the trip," said Bates Gill, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Whether it is perceived as a simple mistake or an intentional slight, it will underscore a pervasive sense of distrust."
The reception for Mr. Hu was further marred when a White House announcer confused the official name of China with that of its archrival, Taiwan, while introducing China's national anthem. Separately, photographs show that as the event ended, President Bush first steered Mr. Hu to leave the podium and then, realizing he had done so prematurely, grabbed the Chinese leader by the arm and pulled him back into the proper position.
The protocol problems may have had more resonance than the nature of the small slights would suggest because Mr. Hu's visit did not achieve any significant breakthroughs and the Chinese always emphasize careful staging of major political events.
"President Bush, Vice President Cheney and many cabinet members have come to China in recent years and they were not subjected to embarrassing episodes of this kind," said Pang Zhongying, a Chinese foreign relations specialist and former Foreign Ministry official. "For ordinary Chinese I'm afraid this kind of thing will not be easy to explain."...
The following article (from a Taiwanese newspaper) gives an idea of how Chinese might interpret some of what happened during the visit:
"Think Tank Wary on US Relations," by Chang Yun-Ping - the Taipei Times (Taiwan), 23 April 2006
Although the visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House didn't break any new ground, Taiwan can only be cautiously optimistic about the future of Taiwan-US relations and continue striving for more common bilateral interests, analysts said yesterday.
"It's obvious that China not only failed to obtain anything substantial from the US, but it also lost face during Hu's visit while the US has at least gained something with the huge trade packages China signed during the visit," Lo Chih-cheng, a political scientist at the Soochow University said.
Lo made the remarks at a press conference held by the Taiwan Thinktank to discuss the implications for US-China-Taiwan relations in the wake of the Bush-Hu meeting.
As much as Hu wanted to be seen as having the prestige of being able to stand side-by-side with the world's most powerful leader, the result of the meeting demonstrated that an unequal relationship still exists between the US and China; one between the world's superpower and a major power, he said.
"Look at the body language of the two leaders: Bush tapped Hu on the shoulder three times as if he was comforting an uneasy Hu, but Hu didn't tap back. The action of tapping his shoulder gave out the sense of a relationship between an elder and a younger person," said Lo....