Beijing (AFP) Jan 22, 2011
China's state media trumpeted President Hu Jintao's state visit to the United States as "a historic masterstroke" of "global significance" but ordinary Chinese seemed rather less enthusiastic.
The official Xinhua news agency gave the glowing praise after the elaborate welcome Hu received at the White House on Wednesday and his Oval Office talks with US President Barack Obama.
"History will remember this unusual day," the People's Daily, mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, gushed over a joint declaration signed by the leaders of the world's top two economies that was short on concrete progress in key disputes.
The China Daily hailed a "New Chapter in Relations" in its front-page headline Thursday. On Friday, the paper blared "Common Interests Shared", under a huge photo of Hu and Obama shaking hands at the state dinner in Hu's honour.
The banner Chinese headlines and declarations of a new era of "mutual respect" painted an image of two equal world leaders hammering out a new direction in a relationship long viewed by many in China as unequal.
That portrayal is consider vital to the Communist Party, for which China's international rise has become a key pillar in its ruling legitimacy, said Joseph Cheng, a China politics researcher at City University of Hong Kong.
"In response to rising nationalism, China's leaders cannot afford to be seen to be weak in dealings with the United States, so the domestic media certainly wants to show Hu on a par with Obama," Cheng told AFP.
Hu arrived in Washington on Tuesday for a high-profile state visit that saw him welcomed with sumptuous pageantry and also saw both sides declare the friendship and common interests they share.
State broadcaster China Central Television on Friday repeatedly re-broadcast reports of Hu's talks with Obama and luminaries such as former president Bill Clinton and secretary of state Henry Kissinger on Sino-US relations.
But the coverage glazed over bilateral bugbears such as currency policy and access to Chinese markets, and Hu's comment that China had "a lot" to do on human rights was removed from Chinese-language reports.
And on the Chinese Internet, reaction has been less than enthusiastic.
A poll published Friday on the website of the nationalistic Global Times said 97 percent of Chinese felt the country still was not an equal to the United States. The survey was quickly pulled from the site without explanation.
And while Communist Party publications such as the People's Daily and English-language newspapers targeting overseas audiences trumpeted the visit, coverage in many other Chinese media was more subdued.
The public political discourse in China is restricted to that considered flattering to the government, but many in the country's blogosphere poked holes in the sugar coating given to Hu's trip, which ends on Friday in Chicago.
Hu's lavish US welcome "proclaims loudly to the world that China and the United States are on an equal footing," said a user of the micro-blog service of Chinese portal Sina.com.
"But we ourselves know: we are all puffed up."
Still, Hu's cordial visit follows a year of tension between the two Pacific powers, and the media portrayals could be aimed at placating rising nationalist voices in China that are often seen as forcing Beijing's hand, said Zhu Feng, an American studies expert at Peking University.
"The top leadership could be hoping to use the Hu visit to America to tamp down nationalistic sentiments, by showing that rivalry was unnecessary between two mutually dependent sides," he said.
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US radio host criticized for Hu mockery
Washington (AFP) Jan 20, 2011
Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host heard by millions of Americans, came under fire Thursday from Asian Americans after he mocked the way visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao speaks. The commentator lampooned Hu - who he called the "ChiCom dictator" - over his joint news conference Wednesday with US President Barack Obama that was marred by a delay in translation. "He was speaki ... read more
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