Sunday, December 27, 2009

Xinhua Describes Obama as "Awkward"

I came across this article about former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott defending China's actions during the Copenhagen summit.

The article makes passing reference to an article from Xinhua, China's official news agency. In that article, President Obama is described as "awkward." To be precise, the article describes Obama's interaction with Premier Wen during the final day of the Copenhagen Summit:

At 18:50, when leaders of the BASIC countries were doing the final review of their common position, they heard a clamor of voices outside. The door was opened and there stood President Obama. Although the scheduled time for the second China-US meeting had passed, Obama's presence at that moment and that place still came as a surprise to the people inside.

President Obama must, too, have felt a bit awkward. With one foot inside the door, he smiled and asked, "Premier Wen, am I early? Which do you prefer, me waiting outside or joining you?" Premier Wen stood up and welcomed him courteously. President Obama was apparently touched. He first walked around the room, shaking hands with everyone inside, and then sat down on President Lula's left and across the table facing Premier Wen.

It's a slightly different account from what was described in our media - at least the outlet that cared to report it. According to The Hill, President Obama asked, "Mr. Premier, are you ready to see me? Are you ready?"

As I stated in my most recent article:

When President Obama has to ask Premier Wen if he is ready to see him it tells you who is running the show. What if Wen had told Obama to take a hike? For all intents and purposes, Obama bowed to China – again.

It looks even worse through the Chinese prism. It is not for our President to ask the Premier of China if it is his preference that he wait outside. That's the sort of question you ask of your boss if he or she is on the phone or otherwise occupied. Even if we are borrowing money from China we are still a sovereign nation. President Obama's approach towards China is awkward indeed.

Now one can dismiss Xinhua's account as mere Chinese propaganda. On the other hand if most of the American media look upon President Obama in awe the same cannot be said of the Chinese media which is little more than an extension of the Chinese Communist Party and in turn the Chinese government.

President Obama might have come to office to improve America's standing in the world. Instead, Obama has conveyed an unwillingness to stand up for America.

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