Chinese media declares Hu’s US trip ‘historic masterstroke’

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BEIJING – China’s state media trumpeted President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the United States as “a historic masterstroke” of “global significance” but ordinary Chinese seemed rather less enthusiastic.
The official Xinhua news agency gave the glowing praise after the elaborate welcome Hu received at the White House on Wednesday and his Oval Office talks with US President Barack Obama.
“History will remember this unusual day,” the People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, gushed over a joint declaration signed by the leaders of the world’s top two economies that was short on concrete progress in key disputes. The China Daily hailed a “New Chapter in Relations” in its front-page headline Thursday.
On Friday, the paper blared “Common Interests Shared”, under a huge photo of Hu and Obama shaking hands at the state dinner in Hu’s honour. The banner Chinese headlines and declarations of a new era of “mutual respect” painted an image of two equal world leaders hammering out a new direction in a relationship long viewed by many in China as unequal.
That portrayal is consider vital to the Communist Party, for which China’s international rise has become a key pillar in its ruling legitimacy, said Joseph Cheng, a China politics researcher at City University of Hong Kong. “In response to rising nationalism, China’s leaders cannot afford to be seen to be weak in dealings with the United States, so the domestic media certainly wants to show Hu on a par with Obama,” Cheng told AFP.
Hu arrived in Washington on Tuesday for a high-profile state visit that saw him welcomed with sumptuous pageantry and also saw both sides declare the friendship and common interests they share. State broadcaster China Central Television on Friday repeatedly re-broadcast reports of Hu’s talks with Obama and luminaries such as former president Bill Clinton and secretary of state Henry Kissinger on Sino-US relations.