Tags: obama | town | hall | china

Obama China Town Hall Riddled By Censors

Monday, 16 November 2009 09:04 AM

BEIJING - In the end, it was a display of diplomatic guile by the US Ambassador to China that rescued President Obama's "town hall meeting" with Chinese students on Monday.

After a string of softball questions from officially selected students, Ambassador Jon Huntsman read out a question that someone had sent in to the US Embassy website, asking bluntly what the president thought of Internet censorship in China.

Taking advantage of this end-run around Chinese government efforts to control all aspects of the supposedly unscripted event, Mr. Obama stressed that he had "always been a strong supporter of open Internet use" and "a big supporter of non-censorship."

His response – faithfully transcribed onto the website of the official state news agency, Xinhua – was immediately posted prominently on all four major Chinese web portals, drawing delighted reactions from some readers.

"An open country, a great president and an immortal assertion; we still have a long way to go" wrote one netizen signing himself Jiangzhongshan on Sohu.com.

It was never going to be easy in China, where officials prize predictability, to organize the sort of spontaneous discussion on live TV that Obama has made part of his political repertoire.

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Monday, 16 November 2009 09:04 AM
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