About the Author: 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.Related Entry:"U.S. Embassy in China Prepares for Secretary Clinton Visit" by U.S. Charge d'affaires in Beijing Dan Piccuta.
As I ride my Chinese bike into work, the way I do most days, I'm thinking about a hundred details related to the Secretary's visit. The arrival of the advance team was pushed up by three days, which is good in that it allows more time to plan together but bad because Embassy Beijing likes to have things squared away before the advance arrives. It's a point of pride, and now they're going to see us before we have a chance to get "cleaned up for company."
With plenty of time before "S" arrives, we are doing pretty well. We have a well-developed schedule, the Secretary's vision for the trip is clear to everyone involved, and the Chinese government is as motivated as we are to make the visit a success. I'm optimistic about the overall picture, but still concerned about the details -- which I should be, because looking after them is my job. In particular, I am worried about synchronizing all events. We have some of the U.S. government's best and brightest working on those separate but interconnected parts of the visit, so I am confident we'll succeed.
I pull up to the garage entrance. The Charge[d'affaires] gives me a shout as he gets of his car, and we walk into the Embassy together. This gives me a chance to brief him on the calls I got from Washington the previous evening and that morning. We plan an all-hands countdown meeting for the afternoon, and he reminds me we need to think about the "wheels-up" party we're going to throw after the Secretary's departure to thank all the people who worked so hard on the visit. Great point.