Monday, November 16, 2009

“He’s on fire, he’s hot,”

New York Times article about Obama and China. A good read... for those who think fashion is a waste of time; this is just a small reminder that fashion is everywhere. Even in politics.

Obama Pushes Rights With Chinese Students

Published: November 16, 2009

HONG KONG — President Barack Obama held a town hall meeting with university students in Shanghai on Monday afternoon, but unlike previous such gatherings with other American presidents, Mr. Obama’s question-and-answer session was not broadcast live onChina’s official state network.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama fielding questions from students at a town hall meeting in Shanghai on Monday.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

About 500 students were due to be allowed into Monday’s question-and-answer session, and it was expected to be a generally welcoming crowd.

Readers' Comments

Share your thoughts.

Instead, according to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, the live broadcast inside China was to be on the agency’s Web site, Xinhuanet. Edited portions were expected to be available later on Central China Television, or CCTV, the state network.

Mr. Obama greeted the crowd by saying “Hello” in Chinese, and apologized to the audience that his ability with the language was not as good as their English. He then recounted the last three decades’ of warming ties between the two nations.

“Look how far we have come,” Mr. Obama said, highlighting growing trade and political ties between the superpowers. “ We do not seek to contain China’s rise,” he added. “More is to be gained when great powers cooperate than when they collide.”

And, in pointed remarks, Mr. Obama repeatedly stressed certain sensitive themes, saying the United States would push for freedom of expression, political participation, respect for ethnic minorities - a particularly touchy topic now in China - and empowering women in society.

The White House offered live streaming of the event on its Web site, which is not blocked or censored in China, and a simultaneous Chinese translation was offered. The feed also was available through the White House page on Facebook.

Previous town hall gatherings with visiting American leaders were shown live on CCTV: Bill Clinton spoke at Beijing University and took questions during a visit in 1998, and George W. Bush met with students at Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2002.

Xinhua said Monday that it had received 3,200 questions over the Internet for Mr. Obama’s session, held at the sprawling Museum of Science and Technology in Shanghai.

Some questions were about sober policy issues: bilateral cooperation in combating the global financial crisis, U.S. import duties on Chinese products and the sale of weapons to Taiwan.

Other questions were lighter: how does Mr. Obama keep fit; who pays for Mrs. Obama’s dresses; does the president like kung pao chicken; is he adept with chopsticks; how much wine can he drink at one sitting; does he allow his children to play games?

“Do you have a Facebook account?” asked one person, according to Xinhua. “May I add you as a friend?”

About 500 students were due to be allowed into Monday’s session, and it was expected to be a generally welcoming crowd. Mr. Obama has already achieved a certain celebrity among many Chinese students.

“My 20-year-old foster son in Wuhan told me that Obama is very popular among his circle of college students,” said Dorothy Solinger, a professor and China scholar at the University of California, Irvine.

Everyday people are intrigued, too, as Obama style crew-cuts are reportedly becoming popular, and replicas of the president are big draws at the Madame Tussaud’s wax museums in both Shanghai and Hong Kong.

“He’s on fire, he’s hot,” a Beijing artist, Liu Bolin, said in a BBC interview. “I think it’s great.”

Chinese T-shirt vendors, perhaps the best barometer of popular trends in China, are clearly aware of the fascination with the American president: “Oba Mao” shirts are on sale in the capital, featuring a likeness of Mr. Obama wearing a red-starred Chairman Mao cap.

Earlier Monday, at the Xijiao State Guest House, Mr. Obama had a working lunch with Han Zheng, the mayor of Shanghai, and Yu Zhengsheng, the secretary of the city’s Communist Party.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails