First, Washington refused Beijing's request for a formal state visit, calling it instead an 'official visit'. Then to add more insults, the White House's pomp-filled welcoming ceremony on Thursday was marred by serious protocol gaffes, including a protest from a supporter of Falun Gong, a religious sect banned on the mainland, and the official announcer's slight in mistaking the Republic of China, the official title of Taiwan, with the People's Republic of China. It is unclear whether protocol-conscious Chinese officials will view the slights as accidental or intended to embarrass President Hu Jintao . Mainland officials are no doubt livid about the gaffes, which undid months of painstaking preparations for the carefully choreographed visit. But they should have bigger things to celebrate as these slights were nothing compared to what Mr Hu gained. He has got almost everything he wanted from his first visit to the United States as president, while US President George W. Bush appeared to break no new ground on the issues he cared about most. For Mr Hu, the summit with Mr Bush was a celebration and an elevation of improving ties between the world's largest developing country and the largest developed country. The symbolism of the event was very important because, other than the issue of Taiwan, Beijing has little need to seek help from the US. This is in sharp contrast to the long list of issues Washington wants to discuss with Beijing, ranging from trade to the yuan, to North Korea and to Iran. Photographs of Mr Hu standing with Mr Bush and savouring the pageantry, marching bands and a 21-gun salute are a powerful message of China's standing in the international community, and were broadcast on China Central Television and splashed across mainland newspapers. It shows the domestic audience that Mr Hu can handle complex Sino-US ties, the most important international relationship in China's foreign diplomacy. From the Chinese perspective, Mr Hu came to the US to reassure Americans about the country's peaceful intentions and that its mighty economic rise would not be a threat to the US. Fully understanding the scale of rising political and business disquiet in the US over the huge American trade deficit, the currency issue, and intellectual property rights, Mr Hu's visit was aimed at directly reaching out to the business community and the American people. He appears to have done that job quite well. Out of his four-day visit, he spent two days in Seattle, where he schmoozed with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and other tycoons, visited the Microsoft offices and toured the Boeing assembly plant, where he donned a Boeing cap and hugged a worker. As his every word in public is carefully scripted, Mr Hu dining at Mr Gates' US$100 million lakeside mansion and calling himself a friend of Microsoft sent a clear message that Beijing will do a better job of fighting piracy and protecting intellectual property rights, which should also be in the mainland's long-term interests. His dinner speeches to the business communities in Seattle and Washington both struck the right tones. To the relief of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian and disappointment of many mainland analysts, Mr Hu secured no more than a standard reiteration from Mr Bush on the Taiwan issue, which Beijing says is the most important element of Sino-US ties. Mr Hu offered broad support and co-operation on issues from trade to energy to the North Korean and Iranian nuclear issues but gave no concrete promises on any.