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Pres. Obama’s Comments Censored in China

Posted November. 18, 2009 08:51,   


U.S. President Barack Obama held a town hall meeting in Shanghai yesterday with college students, but his words were not properly conveyed to the Chinese people due to Beijing’s tight control over media, the Washington Times and the Financial Times said.

Obama mentioned freedom of expression and access to information and the importance of opening up the Internet. The Chinese government, however, censored these comments.

Both dailies said the state-run network CCTV did not report Obama’s town hall meeting with the college students. His visit to China and meeting with the Shanghai mayor were broadcast for less than a minute.

The town hall meeting was broadcast only on Shanghai`s Phoenix TV. It had been scheduled to air live on the broadcaster’s homepage, but in the end, it was replaced by a children’s program. Certain Chinese outside of Shanghai tried to watch the event through the White House’s Web site, but to no avail.

Obama’s comment on Internet censorship was deleted from most Chinese portals and news sites. On what he thought of the blocking of certain Web sites including Twitter by the Chinese government, he said, “I`ve always been a strong supporter of open Internet use.”

This comment was initially posted on Chinese news sites such as Shina.com, but deleted an hour later.

Obama’s emphasis on universal values was also censored. Phoenix TV of Hong Kong stopped broadcasting the town hall meeting shortly before Obama said, “Freedom of expression and worship, of access to information and political participation, we believe are universal rights."

American officials pressed Beijing to open the town hall meeting to the public, but the latter never budged an inch, the Financial Times said.