It seems that the liberal press really are – finally – beginning to take note that Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama cares much less about human rights and press freedoms than George W. Bush did as president.
The New York Times begins its news report today on the president trip’s to China:
Whether by White House design or Chinese insistence, President Obama has steered clear of public meetings with Chinese liberals, free press advocates and even average Chinese during his first visit to China, showing a deference to the Chinese leadership’s aversions to such interactions that is unusual for a visiting American president.
Mr. Obama held a “town hall” meeting with students on Monday. But the students were carefully vetted and prepped for the event by the government, participants said. And the Chinese authorities, wielding a practiced mix of censorship and diplomatic pressure, succeeded in limiting Mr. Obama’s exposure to a point where a third of some 40 Beijing university students interviewed Tuesday were unaware that he had just met in Shanghai with their peers.
Some students who were aware cast him in terms rarely applied to American leaders, like “rather humble” and “bland.”
And on the other side of the Atlantic, the left-liberal Independent (of London) begins its news report this morning:
America used to take pride in speaking softly and carrying a big stick, but in China Barack Obama has had to speak softly and keep any stick he might feel like flourishing well out of sight.
Boxed in by ceremony, with any hint of controversy airbrushed out of his remarks by the regime’s censors, with press conference questions banned and his interlocutors ruthlessly screened, he has struggled to get his message across.
And yesterday the British paper The Financial Times, which has been as strongly supportive of Obama in recent years as it has been derisory about President Bush, also criticized Obama:
It is right and proper that the US acknowledge the rising significance of China. Mr Obama’s assurances that China’s rise need not be a threat were spot on. But by the same token, US accommodation can be taken too far. Contrary to common perception, China’s huge holdings of US treasuries are not a sign of great strength. They are evidence of how dependent Chinese growth has been on the US consumer.
Equally, any idea that China, with an economy less than a third the size of the US and a GDP per capita roughly the same as Angola’s, can somehow save the world is ludicrous. Mr Obama is right to show respect to China. He need not – and must not – kowtow.”