Should Barack Obama have allowed himself to be censored?

If by speaking to China’s youth, President Obama was attempting to smuggle in a bit of democracy into China, then he’s failed according to this blogger. Here’s why:

‘Chinese authorities declined the White House’s request to have the town hall broadcast nationally. Each of the 400-plus students had to attend a pre-talk “lecture and meeting” to learn their talking points. Chinese news sites that originally reported Obama’s remarks about an open Internet and universal rights were quickly censored.’

Hypocrite  or wise move? Is  allowing himself to be censored the sacrifice  President Obama has to make to have China on side?

He’s spoken out  about censorship during his trip;
“These freedoms of expression and worship; of access to information and political participation, we believe are universal rights,” he said. “They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities; whether they are in the United States, China, or any nation.”

But is China’s ruling class listening? And if they’re not – does it matter? 

It does according to these bloggers:

“Obama and company naively thought the speech would be seen throughout the country, but naturally it was censored by the Chinese government. That apparently was OK with him and his henchman David Axelrod.” says Jammiewearingfool. And the Chinese are just using Obama says powerlineblog.

The relationship between China and the United States is “the most important” bilateral relationship in the world, said one former Chinese foreign ministry official yesterday. So isn’t it more important that these two world giants get along?

Yes and no. There’s a growing concern about how China will behave as it gets stronger. Businessinsider is not impressed with Obama’s behaviour ; The Chinese are not our bankers and Obama doesn’t need to Kowtow towards them.

Is President Obama lowering his standards to be friends with China?

20 Responses to “Should Barack Obama have allowed himself to be censored?”

  1. 1 Nigel
    November 17, 2009 at 12:04

    Surely he went there to meet the Chinese government and not the people. Did he go there to talk trade and world affairs or as a missionary preaching the US version of what a “real state” is all about. We really have to get off of this “we alone are right” mindset that we have talked ourselves in to and stop trying to change everybody and concentrate on what is best for making the multidude of groups with different values and governmental systems work together. The Chinese made a big concession to let him step out of his role by meeting the students and had all right to cut the meeting off from television coverage if that is how they run their country.

    • 2 David Castree
      November 18, 2009 at 05:14

      They do NOT have the “right to run the country’. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is an unelected authoritarian dictatorship, so it has NO right to run the country. There is little dialogue betweeen the governors and the governed, there is NO legal way for the Communist Party to be removed from power. So the people will eventually have to use non-legal means to get change. Like Chairman Mao did in 1947 by having a revolution.

      Since then the CCP has had 62 years in absolute power, and calls its form of government “the Peoples’ Dictatorship”………… If the people really could dictate China’s way forward they would almost certainly want to choose their own government. Just like in a democracy. But they are actually imprisoned for voicing their opinions. It is the 21st century’s equivalent of Stalinism.

      Obama is right, the only peaceful way forward for China and its people is for the CCP to let them have political participation.

  2. November 17, 2009 at 12:10

    No, he should not have allowed him self to be censored. He is a world leader, a world icon, and a sovereign leader of a sovereign state. As such, comity and amity between nations should have warned China against doing this, and should have made Obama into not just a cowering world leader when confronted by Chinese anti democratic policies such as this. This is an indication of how much the democratic and free world, with the supposed leadership of the US President, will bow to Beijing’s anti democratic pressures, all in the name of expediency and political correctness. Just like the Germans cowered and bowed before Beijing in a book fair in Frankfurt to remove works by Chinese dissident authors. And this is a shame to Obama, who is supposed to stand for world democracy, to cower and to bow down to anti democratic Chinese practices such as censorship. And I do not know what is there to censor in Obama’s words. This is enough. Enough to appeasing and cowering to world anti democratic leaders and regimes. Enough of all of these!

    • November 17, 2009 at 16:56

      FELMAR ROWELL R SINGCO, I agree with you that Obama is a sovereign leader of a sovereign country who should not bow …. but did you see the picture of Obama taking a deep bow to the Emperor of Japan, which has upset a lot of Americans? By the way, an American President is not a world leader, as the world never votes to elect a world leader. I did not vote for him.

  3. November 17, 2009 at 12:21

    The United States with a history of violations of human rights, eg: Guantanamo, Kidnappings and extra-ordinary rendition of prisoners, supporting dictatorships that advance its interests etc is hardly in a place to lecture to other states on democracy. Besides, did Obama have a choice in the matter of censorship?

  4. 6 Ronald Almeida
    November 17, 2009 at 12:32

    Why should the Chinese believe what the western world believes? Especially since they are far older culturally? What makes the U.S. think Democracy is better for China?

    I think Pres. Obama was wise to let himself be censored, than not have a say at all.
    And let us not even mention hypocrisy. Show me one politician anywhere in the world who isn’t a hipocrite.

    If the U.S. doesn’t need to toe the line with China, what need does China have to do so with the U.S…? Western civilisation, especially the U.S. is under the false impression that they are more progressive than the rest and should stop pushing their weight around.

  5. 7 scmehta
    November 17, 2009 at 13:58

    China always believed in “power grows out of barrel of the gun” or “might is right. After having attained a reasonably unassailable military/nuclear power, it very cleverly, on the sly, took on the world on the economic front, by making such inroads into the other countries (especially the rich and the influential ones) economies as would, in the long run, make them so much dependent upon its cheap labour/market/manufacturing, that, they would have to abide by its political as well as economic terms, weighing heavily in its favour; thus making sure that there was no way in or out for anything that China didn’t want. Hence, President Obama had no other option than to ‘eat an humble pie’.

  6. 8 patti in cape coral
    November 17, 2009 at 14:11

    I don’t understand this thing about “allowing” himself to be censored. How could he have any say in that in another country?

  7. 9 gary
    November 17, 2009 at 14:17

    Selection rules define all organizations! These four hundred Chinese students were no doubt selected by the Government because they are personifications of the values it holds most dear. Why worry about censorship when provided with a group with whom communication may prove most beneficial? If they perceived themselves as unharmed by candor, might they not also in future trust that their countrymen will remain unharmed by it? The great public did not participate; but then the great public does not currently run China. It is best always to communicate with those who do, or who will.

  8. 10 T
    November 17, 2009 at 15:56

    Why did Obama go to China? To keep borrowing money from the States biggest creditor. They KNEW that the Chinese govt. wouldn’t let this meeting be broadcast nationally. Yet, he has to go thru the motions to maintain his image worldwide.

  9. November 17, 2009 at 17:07

    We have recently exited a cold war,do we really want to walk into another.What should Obama have done?Walked out,not even attended or demanded that China suspend it’s domestic policies? Ruling classes have never listened,unless forced or persuaded to,China will be no different.China is now embracing capitalism,(now there’s a real nightmare,and contradiction of communism!) Marx and Engles must be turning in their graves.Felmar Rowell R.States that Obama is a world leader,yes he is,he is not however,The World Leader.

  10. 12 Tom K in Mpls
    November 17, 2009 at 17:19

    Obama cannot dictate policy in another country. This makes the question a poor one. In most ways, even someone with diplomatic immunity is still subject to the rules of the host nation. To those dozens or few thousands of Chinese that know and care, this will be another case of their government being silly. To join the world in the way China states they want, much will change. But those in power will fight hard to hold on to what they have.

    • 13 David Castree
      November 18, 2009 at 05:20

      Diplomatic immunity actually means the immune person cannot be prosecurted for violations of the rules or laws of the country he/she is visiting. What does Tom K think it means?

  11. 14 Jay
    November 17, 2009 at 17:57

    Are you people idiots? He didn’t “allow” anything, you fools. Obama does not control the Chinese media.

  12. November 17, 2009 at 18:28

    What really brought down the Berlin Wall and communism in Eastern Europe? Some argue a cascade of events from the Soviet Union’s failures in Afghanistan, radio free Europe, etc. But is it possible that many people heard the real message about the truth about the west and the civil liberties that are to often taken for granted in this country, the freedom to be safe even if you criticize the government, the right to a free and uninhibited press and access to information, the right to determine your own destiny, the right to practice whatever religion or no religion you wish, the right to rejoice or denounce publicly and assemble to demonstrate your beliefs, the right to a free public education, the right to be judged not on your race, creed, sex, sexual orientation or origin, I could go on and on. Did the people demand it for themselves? If President Obama touched one person in that hand picked audience of sallow faced youths who looked frightened of showing any emotion, the message is being spread; as it is in China through contact, discussion groups, etc. For those who criticized him, remember, he was not making the speech in Little Rock, NYC or Chicago, but in a sovereign nation who has a sovereign right to set its own rules, even though I disagree with them in many or all respects, I am not a Chinese citizen. It is for the Chinese people to demand civil liberties. I’m certain that it will happen. I am hopeful that the town hall meeting, even though perhaps staged and stilted, was just another step in the inevitable path of the Chinese people demanding their civil liberties. I was proud of how knowledgeable, competent and reasonable President Obama is and we in the US should be grateful that we have a president who is so competent.

  13. 16 Chintan in Houston
    November 17, 2009 at 18:54

    You don’t go into someone’s house and criticise their food or furniture. He was a guest to the country and behave like one. This rouge, self-righteous behaviour is just unwarranted.
    And therefore, yes he should have censored himself and made a speech that was more appropriate. This just shows that all this hooplaah he tried to create was useless since most Chinese will never see or hear the speech.

  14. 17 Jim Newman
    November 17, 2009 at 19:32

    Hello again
    Like Jim Newman Barak Obama hasn’t much say in the matter.
    And please don’t call yourselves journalists. Journalists do not censor they get censored.
    Lots of love.
    PS journalists are not book burners either.

  15. 18 Kelvin Kamayoyo from Zambia
    November 18, 2009 at 12:10

    Dear BBC,

    Obama should not have accepted to have been censored because the mere acceptance translates into exhibition of the weakening pace of the American world power. It is unusual for the USA to adhere to instructions from any country but this time around the world has witnessed the bending down on the kneels of the Chinese Authority stance by the USA.

    We now know that money or economic strength in globe influence is very paramount hence the Chinese can now do whatever they feel or think like at any time and to anyone. China is one country that ldo not appreciate when it comes to Human Rights Respect and adherence.

    Chinese investments in Africa has not really recorded a positive growth on the respective economies and its benefit penetrations has had a light weight intensity hence their approach has no direct link to employment creation. So what is really China offering to African society other than just pleasing the governments of day that invites them.However, this does not mean the other countries such as EU and US have no share of blame!!!!
    Kelvin Kamayoyo

  16. 19 John LaGrua/New York
    November 19, 2009 at 17:33

    Reform in China will come about when the people demand it in sufficient numbers to force the hand of the ruling Communist elite.who have an great interest in preserving the staus quo.Poking them in the eye with a sharp stick will only make our relationship more problematic.The creditor /debtor situation limits our flexibility and its’ gauche to preach when your are guest..One way to promote freedom is to encourage Chinese students to come to the US on a Fulbright type program and let them experience the freedom of ideas and expression here.When they go back they will be strong advocates of an open society and they will change the game forever.China has had a great culture over a four thousand year history .We would be better served by studying its; history and great philosophers thus becoming more sensitive to their thinking and traditions .

  17. November 23, 2009 at 08:33

    I like this article but..
    Can someone tell me about Barack Obama?
    I know that he is a serious candidate for ’08, but I would like to know where he stands on the issues. I checked his site but nowhere can I find the info. i am looking for.
    so please tell me…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: