Although the focus of President Obama’s trip to China has been framed around the idea of cooperation between China and the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping ended the trip with some very blunt words for the U.S. president.
The trip to the largest communist country in the world heralded a landmark agreement to confront climate change. President Obama and President Xi both portrayed the agreement as an example of how the world’s two largest superpowers could collaborate to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Mr. Xi stated such an opinion at a press conference, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“When China and the U.S. work together, we can become an anchor of world stability.”
President Obama echoed the idea. However, when the trip was wrapping up, the stark differences between the United States and China became brutally evident.
For one, President Xi didn’t want to have a press conference for reporters in the first place. According to the New York Times, the Chinese President actually seemed to ignore the first two questions by the outlet’s reporter. The question from the reporter was as follows: Does China fear that the Obama Administration’s pivot to Asia represents an effort to contain China, and would China agree to ease its refusal to issue visas to some foreign correspondents in light of a broader visa agreement with the United States?
Xi reportedly moved on to the next question from a Chinese state-run newspaper, which he answered, before coming back to the question posed by the reporter from the New York Times. The Chinese President then stated that the visa problems some reporters were facing were of “their own making.” Xi also proclaimed little tolerance for foreign media, saying that China did protect media organizations, but only if they followed the rules of the country.
“When a certain issue is raised as a problem, there must be a reason.”
The Chinese leader went on to liken the problems of media outlets such as the New York Times to a faulty car.
“When a car breaks down on the road, perhaps we need to step down and see what the problem is. The Chinese say, ‘Let he who tied the bell on the tiger take it off.'”
Mr. Xi was clearly stating that the Chinese Government’s response to a lack of visas for foreign media outlets was not a problem of the Chinese Government, but of the foreign news media outlets themselves.
Moving off of foreign media, President Xi astounded many by his blunt warning for pro-democracy countries, including the United States and Britain, to stay out of Hong Kong’s affairs.
“Hong Kong’s affairs are exclusively China’s internal affairs, and foreign countries should not interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs in any fashion. It goes without saying that law and order must be protected in any place.”
In response to the statement by the Chinese leader, President Obama commented on the recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
“These are issues ultimately for the people of Hong Kong and China to decide.”
President Obama added his support however for the right of free expression.
[Image via NBC News]