Friday, November 13, 2009

Listening to the Chinese

The Obama Administration attempted an interesting public relations experiment yesterday.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Image from

China’s bloggers are a focus of organizers of President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit, echoing similar efforts by the administration to use social-media tools to communicate with Americans.

On Thursday, U.S. State Department officials held simultaneous press briefings for a select group of predominantly Chinese bloggers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, giving a rundown of the U.S. president’s China schedule and took questions from the bloggers.

The attendee list included many influential bloggers, such as journalist Michael Anti, who blogs about freedom of the press, and Rao Jin, whose Anti-CNN Web site scrutinizes China coverage by the news network and other foreign media.

Read On
This symposium with bloggers, along with the meeting with Chinese youth that Obama (says he) wants to have, is very progressive. Bill Clinton had similar open discussions when he visited China in the 1990s. I like to see Obama trying to connect with Chinese people directly. Based on the general positive things I heard about Bill Clinton, I think that Chinese people appreciate these kinds of gestures and attempts to hear what they have to say.

I hope that the upcoming trip goes well. Even if Obama's domestic numbers aren't as meteoric as they were before, he's still a huge asset to America abroad.

It'll be interesting to see how forceful Obama is in China next week. In the past, democrats have been far more critical of China than republicans. Particularly on human rights, democrats have traditionally been more willing to stir the pot than republicans, who were happy to see China's role as a trading partner expanding.

Like Clinton and Pelosi were earlier this year, I would not expect Obama to cause much trouble. He knows that the US needs China on board right now. I can't imagine that the US can or will be combative or overly ideological right now.


Ramesh said...

Interaction with bloggers ?? No use when every sensible blogging platform is blocked here. There's just no way Chinese bloggers will connect with the rest of the world - they can't get on in the first place.

Oh yes, Obama will generate a lot of goodwill during his visit. Wishes he says to the powers that be here, what Reagan said to Gorbachev - Mr Gorbachev you must tear down this wall now.

Mike Bate said...

Well i think they should just bag off and let Obama do his thing so far so good. Who care's if he don't twitter it's not like it matters anyways..