About the Author: Dan Piccuta serves as the Charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China.Related Entry:"Preparing for Secretary Clinton's Visit: From the Advance Team to Wheels-Up" by Deputy Political Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing Ben Moeling.
Arriving at work the other day I could not help but notice ahead a foreigner merrily pedaling his local Chinese bicycle (Flying Pigeon brand) into the U.S. Embassy compound just ahead of me. I laugh as I realize the foreigner arriving on the "bike of the masses" is our American SecState visit's Overall Control Officer, Ben Moeling.
For those not familiar with how high level visits are organized, beneath the Chief of Mission (me) and his Deputy, the one person most responsible for every aspect of a visit's planning and preparation is the Overall Control Officer. And, this being Secretary Clinton's first trip as Secretary, and first visit in that capacity to China, we are approaching every site and event with fresh eyes -- meaning more preparation, more details, and more effort. Ben probably has over 100 American and Chinese employees working on preparations of every aspect of the visit from the airport arrival to the tour of a highly-efficient natural gas-fired power plant.
So my first reaction is amusement as I consider the irony of the American officer (of 350 assigned here) with the biggest role and the most to do that day calmly pedaling his bike a few kilometers to work. And then another thought comes to me: how appropriate that for a trip on which we hope climate cooperation, energy efficiency and the environment will be key themes, the American officer charged to prepare the visit is doing his part with a "green" morning commute by bike.