Trump cooperates with Chinese effort to control image

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold their joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017.

Thu, 09 Nov 2017 02:27:04 -0500

BEIJING (AP) — President Donald Trump made a cooperative partner for Beijing's sweeping efforts to control the message of his heavily choreographed visit.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, took no questions at an event Thursday billed as a news briefing, a reduction of already minimal press interaction during previous visits by American leaders.

During a 2014 visit by then-President Barack Obama, Xi took a symbolic single question from a reporter for a Chinese state newspaper. He brushed off an American reporter's question about whether Beijing might ease restrictions on visas for foreign journalists, saying vaguely that media outlets had to obey China's laws.

Trump, who has called the press the "enemy of the American people," also took no questions during an event Thursday at which Chinese companies signed contracts to buy American jetliners, soybeans and other goods.

The visit comes at a time when Trump faces uncomfortable questions at home about Russia and possible gun controls following deadly mass shootings.

Xi almost never takes questions from reporters.

Meanwhile, as Chinese television showed Trump and Xi visiting the imperial palace in Beijing, censors scrubbed comments about Trump's visit from China's lively internet forums.

Reports by propaganda outlets including the ruling Communist Party's main newspaper, People's Daily, dominated posts on the popular Twitter-like microblog service, Sina Weibo.

The comments function on most posts, which can attract witty remarks from Chinese internet users, appeared to have been disabled or limited. Only a few dozen "carefully chosen" comments with positive messages were allowed.

According to Free Weibo, a site that tracks online censorship, posts that were deleted include humorous comments about the remarkable lack of traffic congestion in Beijing as Trump's motorcade passed Tiananmen Square.

Others asked whether Trump is able to get on Twitter, which China's internet filters block the public from seeing. (Answer: Yes, he is.)

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