XI'AN, China - A Chinese security guard tried to stop President Bill Clinton's two valets from boarding Air Force One on Friday, apparently because they are Asian-American, the White House said.
The two valets were carrying Clinton's bags aboard the plane at the airport in Xi'an for departure to Beijing when the guard began shouting at them as they climbed the airliner's back stairs, creating a commotion as reporters watched.
White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Clinton's Secret Service agents believed the valets ''were stopped and singled out only for reasons of ethnicity.''
The implication appeared to be the Americans were allowing two Chinese to board Clinton's plane surreptitiously.
McCurry described the Chinese guard as ''over-excited'' and said Clinton's Secret Service agents told him that the two were Clinton's personal valets, who are Filipino-Americans.
Even though the incident occurred on a day when the United States and China clashed on human rights issues, McCurry said the particular incident ''looked like a ground control problem. It didn't look like it was broader based than that.''