While President Obama may have been able to convince President Xi Jinping to take questions directly from the foreign press, the Chinese leader made his stance on American journalists pretty clear with his lack of answers. It seems that every blink, metaphor, and shimmy from this press conference was laden with meaning (note: President Xi Jinping did not shimmy at any time during APEC.)
The first two questions lobbed at Xi came from New York Times journalist Mark Landler, one about America’s new “pivot towards Asia” and the second about visas for foreign news correspondents, went unanswered. President Xi actually took out his ear piece as if to sing “na-na-na-na-na! I can’t hear you!”
Which elicited this wink-y shrug “sorry” face from President Obama, now a popular GIF for those trying to express, “Sorry dude, I feel ya.”
In the next (entirely unrelated) question posed by a reporter from a state-owned paper, the President was able to circle back for a dig or two at foreign journalists in China, using opaque sayings to explain why they have so much difficulty obtaining visas, like, “When a car breaks down on the road, perhaps we need to get off the car and see where the problem lies” and “let he who tied the bell on the tiger take it off.” For anyone not in the mood to translate metaphor into English, President Xi basically explained that their blocked entry is their own damn fault. He strongly implied that discontinuing the publication of any unfavorable or controversial news coverage of China would make visa problems disappear.
Naturally, implying that the American press adjust their coverage for a foreign government, or really any government, had the opposite effect. The Times lashed back with an op-ed piece, assuring readers that their media coverage will remain unchanged by the President’s remarks, even going so far to say, “Demanding that journalists tailor their coverage to suit the state only protects the powerful and those with something to hide. A confident regime that considers itself a world leader should be able to handle truthful examination and criticism.” Ouch.
President Xi Jinping also declined to comment on the Chinese news sources that have been hating on Obama, saying only, “I don’t think it’s worth fussing over these different views.”
Click for more news about the APEC
[Image via Xinhua]
By Briel Waxman