China Censors Obama Speech

National coverage of school event cut after a few minutes
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2009 2:41 PM CST
President Obama is greeted by Chinese president Hu Jintao after his arrival at Diaoyutai state guest house in Beijing, China, Monday, Nov. 16, 2009.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel, Pool)
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(Newser) – President Obama’s entreaty for greater personal freedoms in China did not reach most of nation’s residents, apparently because of a last-minute decision by censors. Though authorities initially agreed to broadcast the speech, which Obama hoped would be the central event of his China visit, all national transmission was cut after a few minutes. The website of state news organ Xinhua displayed a headline promising “Obama's Dialogue with China: Global Exclusive Live Broadcast,” but never delivered it.

The appearance, a town hall-style event in which Obama praised open society without directly criticizing China, was broadcast on local Shanghai television, though some of his remarks were censored. The handling of the event shows both the tight control Beijing maintains over Chinese society and the government's faith in the American president’s powers of persuasion. Obama’s staff has been “shocked” at the level of control Beijing has sought over every public appearance, sources tell the Sydney Morning Herald.