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Obama's popularity in China depends on his actions: Chinese media

November 15, 2009 16:14 IST
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As Barack Obama embarks on his maiden state visit to China, the official media here has warned the US President that his popularity in the world's most populous nation will hinge on his actions, not words.

"Obama's popularity in China hinges on his actions, not his words," the state-run 'Global Times' said in a commentary, ahead of his four-day visit to Shanghai and Beijing on Sunday.

"Just as with his domestic electorate, the history-making US President can only convincingly win over the Chinese audience when its needs are carefully cared for and a win-win situation is achieved," it said.

Despite being a charismatic celebrity and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Obama is going to be greeted by a Chinese audience that is taking an "increasingly rational and mature attitude towards foreign political stars, and cares about its own interests more than ever," said the paper, affiliated to the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party of China.

On the eve of his visit, Obama said in Tokyo that the US did not seek to contain a rising China and called for deepening of the bilateral strategic and economic dialogue.

"The United States does not seek to contain China, nor does a deeper relationship with China mean a weakening of our bilateral alliances," Obama said in a major policy speech on Asia on Saturday.

The Chinese foreign ministry has said that Obama's visit to China would be of great significance to the future development of the Sino-US relations.

"China attaches great importance to his visit," Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said and hoped that the trip will lead to an "affirmative, cooperative and comprehensive China-US   relations in the 21 century" and enrich it with more strategic content.

"China is looking forward to having comprehensive and in-depth exchange of views with President Obama on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of mutual interest so as to increase mutual trust and promote cooperation between us," Qin said.

Obama, who will have talks with his counterpart Hu Jintao, is expected to cover a wide range of topics, both bilateral and global, and could help create the political momentum needed to push forward efforts between the two major powers.

Any joint decisions China and the US make are bound to impact the rest of the world, which is why the two countries are sometimes called the "G2", the Global Times said.

There is nothing unusual in the US side putting a basket of issues on the agenda before any important meeting with China, it said, and noted that Obama had already indicated that economic imbalances, market opening and climate change are among the top issues he intends to raise with Chinese leaders.

It is no surprise either that Chinese people have a "wish list" of their own to discuss with the US President during his visit.

With China's rising clout in the new world order, Chinese should have an equal say in Sino-US relations, as their own immediate interests are at stake, the paper said.

With stiff tariffs imposed on China-made steel pipes and tyres, protectionism is one of the top matters that Chinese hope Obama will take action on it, it said.

"His (Obama's) personal credibility can be built among Chinese only when he keeps the 'say-no-to-protectionism' promises he has made on numerous occasions, like the G20 summit meetings," the paper said.

The security of China's assets and investments in the US is another issue that Chinese are concerned about. US government bonds held by Chinese totalled USD 767.9 billion (nearly Rs 36,000 billion) as of March 2009, according to the US Treasury.

The continuing devaluation of the dollar has brought uncertainty to China's financial security, it said.

"Any coordinated efforts between the two countries in the field of trade and currency will help boost not only bilateral relations, but also Obama's popularity in China," the paper said.

The Tibet and Taiwan questions are also certainly of concern to Chinese people. Both are crucial to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and arms sales to Taiwan or support for pro-independence forces in either area are firmly opposed, the Global Times said.

Also high on the "wish list" are climate change issues. To push forward a firm pledge and prompt global action, an agreement needs to be reached between China and the US, the world's top two carbon emitters, the paper said.

And as the largest developed nation in the world, the US should take the lead in fighting climate change, it added.
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