Chinese President Hu Jintao (C) is introduced to nine-year-old Sasha Obama (C in white coat) by US President Barack Obama as they greet the crowd during an official south lawn arrival ceremony for Hu at the White House in Washington Jan 19, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
WASHINGTON –US President Barack Obama's nine-year-old daughter, Sasha, wanted to test her developing Chinese skills this week while Chinese President Hu Jintao was in town.
Just whom did she want to practice them with?
The Chinese president himself, according to a White House official who recounted the story on Thursday after a formal state dinner the previous night.
"The president pointed out last night at the state dinner that his daughter, Sasha, is a very young girl but her class is studying Chinese," Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, told a video conference with Chinese bloggers.
"She's under 10 years old and they're studying Chinese, and she wanted to have the chance to practice her Chinese with President Hu."
Sasha attended Hu's welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn on Wednesday morning with friends and could be seen waving a Chinese flag excitedly as her father and Hu walked around the grounds.
The two presidents paused to visit when they reached the nine-year-old and her friends behind the rope line.
"Not every (child) has the opportunity to try out their first phrases of Chinese with the president of China, but she had that chance," Rhodes said.
He said the anecdote illustrated Americans' desire to get to know China better with more people studying the country and doing business there.