Limited Access for U.S. Press in China

Posted: Aug 19, 2011 9:11 AM

The White House pool reports coming out of China are fascinating, showing the difference between a free press and the American idea of journalism and access versus what the Chinese allow. The pool reports come from reporters who are traveling with the president and covering the event -- one reporter usually writes up an account that gets sent out to journalists who can use the information in stories.

You've probably already read that the Chinese have been difficult in allowing access that Americans are used to, and you've probably also heard about the altercation that happened between the reporters and Chinese officials.

Here's part of a pool report received earlier this morning from Michael Memoli at the Tribune:

"Some more clarity about the access: Chinese officials are attempting limit our coverage of these meetings to a very specific time frame. To them it makes no difference if the leaders continue to talk beyond that span. In their view, we must leave when the time runs up. VP staff has been doing their best to keep as in as long as possible.

We were told by an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that for the Hu meeting, we would be allowed in for a grand total of 5 minutes, including consecutive translations."

From part of another account, this time coming at some point of the Hu meeting:

"About this time the pool was being directed to leave. Doing so as slowly as possible and without altercation, pool heard Biden continue to tell Hu that President Obama "genuinely looks forward to seeing you" in Hawaii for APEC, and that Hawaii was Obama's "favorite place in the world."

Pool returned to hotel. VP's official schedule for the day ended with the Hu meeting."

The most annoying part was when Biden said, quoting the pool report's pharaphrase, that  "President Obama asked him to come here to reaffirm his commitment to a strong and enduring relationship with China."

Americans should not be put in the position of having to play nice with the Chinese unless we chose to. It's disgusting that a country with countless crimes against humanity and an obsessively-controlling idea of government owns so much of our debt.