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January 29, 1979

President Jimmy Carter hosted a State Dinner for Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping. He was the highest-ranking Chinese visitor to the White House since Madame Chiang Kai-shek visited in 1943. Following the Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn, President Carter and Vice Premier Deng went to the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room for two meetings held during the day. The State Dinner marked the first official return to the White House for former President Richard Nixon. Guests dined on roast stuffed loin of veal, timbale of seafood, saffron rice, broccoli spears, endive and watercress salad and Trappist cheese, with champagne and white wine. During the dessert of chestnut mousse and chocolate truffles, the U.S. Air Force Band Strolling Strings performed. After dinner President Carter and Vice Premier Deng went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for a gala program of live entertainment featuring John Denver, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Joffrey Ballet and Shirley MacLaine.

January 10, 1984

President Ronald Reagan hosted a State Dinner for Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang. Following the Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn, President Reagan and Premier Zhao met in the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room with U.S. and Chinese officials.

Guests at the State Dinner for Premier Zhao that evening dined on beef farcie en croute, poached turbot, and pomegranate sorbet. In the East Room, violinist Isaac Stern provided entertainment.

July 23, 1985

President Ronald Reagan hosted a State Dinner for Chinese President Li Xiannian. Following the Arrival Ceremony, the two presidents met in the White House. A State Dinner for President Li was held in the State Dining Room. The 125 guests dined on lime sabayon, lobster, summer squash, and veal tenderloin and were entertained by baritone Gregg Baker and mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry. The dinner was President Reagan’s first social outing since surgery ten days earlier at Bethesda Naval Medical Center to remove a cancerous polyp in his large intestine. He joked during his remarks: “President Li ... told me that once I was totally back on my feet, a young man like myself could expect to have a long and distinguished career ahead of him.”

October 29, 1997

President Bill Clinton hosted a State Dinner for Chinese President Jiang Zemin. The president was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. At the State Dinner that evening, guests dined on poached lobster with lime leaves, lemongrass and corn-leek relish, pepper-crusted Oregon beef, mandarin tea tartlets, Marzipan panda bears, and swirled orange sherbet. Following the dinner, the guests traveled by a convoy of red trolleys to a large tent on the South Lawn where the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, performed a 30-minute program of music by American composers, including Leroy Anderson, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and John Philip Sousa.

April 8, 1999

President Bill Clinton hosted a State Dinner for Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji. The president attended an Arrival Ceremony on the White House South Lawn with full military honors. At a White House State Dinner for Premier Zhu that evening, the tables were decorated with flaming parrot tulips, oncidium orchids, and Raphaela roses on red damask tablecloths with red and white china plates and gold flatware. The main course was roasted salmon on caramelized fennel and endive, and dessert consisted of orange sherbet and tea parfait with raspberries and kumquat tartlets. After-dinner performances included recitals by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Sara Wolfensohn, daughter of World Bank President James Wolfensohn. Musician Wu Man played the pipa, an ancient Chinese four-stringed lute.

January 19, 2011

President Hu Jintao received a formal welcome from President Obama with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute, on the South Lawn of the White House. At the State Dinner for President Hu, the tables were set with jewel-toned linens with pheasants and with the gold-rimmed Clinton china, as well as pedestals of berries, flowering branches, and rose bouquets. The menu featured herbs and honey from the White House garden, pear salad with goat cheese, poached Maine lobster, rib-eye, and a dessert of apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Guests were entertained following dinner by jazz musicians Chris Botti and Herbie Hancock, singers Dee Dee Bridgewater and Dianne Reeves, classical pianist Lang Lang, and selected musicians from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

September 25, 2015

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a State Dinner for Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China and his wife, Madame Peng Liyuan. The dinner was held in the East Room of the White House. Dishes served included wild mushroom soup with black truffle, butter-poached Maine lobster with spinach, shiitake and leek rice-noodle rolls, and grilled Colorado lamb with garlic fried milk and baby broccoli. Entertainment by rhythm and blues singer-songwriter Ne-Yo was provided after dinner.

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $100 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit

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