Chinese Internet users want to quiz U.S. President Barack Obama about trade feuds, basketball, the Dalai Lama and whether he will cede California to China, according to websites seeking questions for a “town hall” meeting.
Obama arrives on Sunday for a four-day visit to shore up ties between the world’s biggest and third-biggest economies, and a public high point will be a planned question-and-answer meeting with young Chinese in Shanghai on Monday.
State-run websites have begun to solicit possible questions for Obama from the country’s estimated 300 million Internet users, including via a Chinese-language website of the official Xinhua news agency (ask.home.news.cn/).
The questions collected reflect the mix of anxiety and expectation the U.S. president is likely to encounter when he meets President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
The Wall Street Journal blog reports on a press conference held by State Department officials in Beijing for Chinese bloggers in preparation for Obama’s arrival:
The attendee list included many influential bloggers, such as journalist Michael Anti, who blogs about freedom of the press, and Rao Jin, whose Anti-CNN Web site scrutinizes China coverage by CNN and other foreign media. Jeremy Goldkorn, of Danwei.org, represented the English-language China blogosphere. The group also included a couple of big names from China’s Internet world beyond blogs, such as Gary Wang, CEO and co-founder of online video sharing site tudou.com, and Peking University journalism professor and author Hu Yong.
In true social media fashion, several of the bloggers twittered the briefing, which was on the record. They also spoke openly about issues of concern to them: China’s Internet restrictions. One blogger asked if Obama would be able to use Twitter and Facebook while in China. (Both are accessible only by proxy in China). Another suggested that Obama visit a local Internet café so that he could understand the difficulties faced by ordinary people in accessing information.