Today, President Obama met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the likely successor to current president Hu Jintao. The vice president’s travels in the United States are heavy on ceremony and high-level meetings: He’s being hosted by Vice President Biden, he met with President Obama in the Oval Office, he had lunch with Secretary of State Clinton, and he’s scheduled for a Pentagon visit and a cross-country tour (accompanied by Biden). American officials are clearly hoping to impress and court Mr.
Is China at war with the West? Hu Jintao, China’s leader, evidently thinks so, and to go by his recent words and actions, the greatest threats are blockbuster movies and reality TV. While the state has been increasing its restrictions on outside cultural products and keeping old barriers in place—limiting the number of foreign movies to 20 a year, for instance—Hu brought the scaremongering to a new level in a recent essay.
At the G20 Summit last week in Cannes, Nicolas Sarkozy held only four private meetings. One was with Barack Obama and a second was with Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India.
This is the first in our package of articles about the Middle East revolts and the future of autocracy worldwide. Click here to read about the Muslim Brotherhood, here to read about Russia's deep despair, and here to read about Venezuela's lost generation. No one thinks about their own demise more than the leaders of China’s Communist Party. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites, they have undertaken a massive effort to study why some one-party states survive while others fail.
Each year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its affiliated organizations hold hundreds of meetings, at which officials from countries across Asia come together to issue bland, verbose communiqués about everything from agriculture management to the handling of spiny dogfish and to listen to interchangeable speeches by government officials. Along with an inevitable level of boredom, the meetings feature exaggerated, affected displays of courtesy that would not have been out of place at the Tudor Court.
Last week, on the same day that Hu Jintao was dining with Barbra Streisand and Jackie Chan at the White House, there was another piece of less welcome news about China: According to a statement issued by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a network of activists, Hu’s government had recently disseminated a list of “requirements and prohibitions” for journalists during the coming year. The rules included a ban on the use of the phrase “civil society.” This revelation was not front-page news, of course—and, in the sense that it represented nothing out of the ordinary, it shouldn’t have been.
When Chinese President Hu Jintao meets his American counterpart at the White House tomorrow, he will undoubtedly go through the motions of engaging him on substantive matters. But there will be little in the way of agreement: At the last summit, in November 2009, China and the United States released a 4,223-word joint statement that became a dead letter within three weeks, after acrimonious exchanges at the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
Many observers were puzzled last week when President Obama announced his support for expanded offshore oil drilling. Was he trying to win over Republican swing votes for a climate bill? Head off the inevitable anger over summer gas prices? Perhaps. But here's another possibility: The move could have been intended to bolster international support for sanctions on Iran.
Sometimes a journalist grasps an intricate situation and explains it in just one simple sentence. Here is what the distinguished Timesman John Vinocur has to say in today’s International Herald Tribune about Obama’s policy of sanctions: The United States’ notions of U.N. sanctions on Iran have devolved over the past months from crippling ones to ones that bite to the currently described smart ones, which, although packaged with the words tough and strong might not be hard-nosed enough to give the mullahs a half-hour’s lost sleep. Now what? As it happens, more of the same. David E.