Chinese news reports made no mention Friday of the protester who interrupted President Hu Jintao’s visit with President Bush or a White House announcer flubbing China’s official name. But ordinary Chinese commenting on Web sites accused President Bush of insulting Hu.
“You can see from Bush’s lack of respect for foreign leaders just how lacking he is in class,” said a posting on a bulletin board run by the People’s Daily, the main Communist Party newspaper.
State television devoted half of its 30-minute noon news Friday to Hu’s White House visit, showing him making a speech and chatting with Bush.
While U.S. media featured the protester, who had obtained temporary press credentials as a reporter for a Falun Gong newspaper and pleaded with Bush to stop Hu from persecuting the banned spiritual movement, the incident was absent from official Chinese reports.
China also blacked out CNN and the British Broadcasting Corp.’s BBC World, which are available in some hotels and Western housing.
Neither was there any government or state media comment on a White House announcer who referred to China as the “Republic of China,” the official name of rival Taiwan, instead of the People’s Republic of China.
The gaffes were unlikely to sour Chinese leaders on the visit, which looked successful, said Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University.
“The Chinese government and the Chinese public will think this kind of event is unfortunate, and think the U.S. government should take some responsibility for security arrangements and letting the protester in,” Shi said.
“But generally, these are just individual incidents, and the Chinese government won’t think too much of it.”
The Chinese government billed Hu’s trip as a chance to talk directly with Bush about trade and political disputes. It also was a chance to press Beijing’s views on Taiwan, the self-ruled island that it claims as its own territory.
Shanghai-based Dragon Television carried Hu’s White House appearance live but cut away when the protester appeared. So did Phoenix Satellite Television, a Chinese-language broadcaster in Hong Kong with close ties to the Beijing government. The main state channel, China Central Television, didn’t carry the event live.
Broadcasts in China by CNN and the British Broadcasting Corp.’s BBC World were blacked out repeatedly Friday by censors, apparently to prevent Chinese viewers from seeing the protester.
Despite such measures, at least some Chinese were clearly aware of Thursday’s missteps.
“Announcing the ‘Republic of China’ … is an insult to the People’s Republic and its government,” said a posting on the People’s Daily site.
On washeng.net, a Chinese-language Web site hosted overseas, postings accused the White House of intentionally allowing in the protester.
“This was absolutely planned and directed by America. Given America’s anxiety over the war on terror, that person should have been shot otherwise,” said an unsigned comment.
“The only explanation,” it said, “is that this happened with the knowledge of the Secret Service.”
Said another: “It’s a tragic and insulting image for international relations.”