'It's Magical': Obama Tours China's Great Wall

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White House aides were exultant after the president walked part of the Great Wall alone in a choreographed moment for photographers and "the shot" they had planned turned out perfectly.

President Barack Obama absorbed history's expanse Wednesday from atop the Great Wall of China, a manmade wonder of such enormity that Obama found himself putting daily life in perspective.

A must-see for presidents from President Richard Nixon on, the Great Wall was one of Obama's major sightseeing stops during his diplomatic tour of Asia.

Dressed in a winter jacket against a biting wind, Obama led a knot of people for a half-hour jaunt up the crenelated wall toward a watchtower, a restored section originally built 500 years ago

Stops at landmark tourist sites used to be -- and often still are -- compulsory for foreign dignitaries visiting China. Nixon's foreign affairs strategist Henry Kissinger suspected his Chinese hosts scheduled sightseeing to drag out his time -- and perhaps drag out concessions.

History matters to the Chinese, who take pride in being heirs to a civilization of 4,000-plus years and believe the past offers insights into their present.

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