The United States’ “obsession with special privileges” lies behind several US media organization’s accusation that China treated US reporters rudely during the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, sources said.
The sources, who are close to the matter, responded on condition of anonymity to news reports and opinion pieces in some US newspapers that accused China of failing to meet the US media demands.
They faulted China first with not allowing some US reporters to be close to President Barack Obama as he got off Air Force One in Hangzhou on Saturday.
Obama said on Sunday, however, that his talks on Saturday with President Xi Jinping had been “extremely productive” and that he “wouldn’t overcrank the significance” of arguments that took place at the airport upon his arrival.
The Wall Street Journal complained that on Saturday “the Chinese barred Mr Obama from including his traveling press contingent in his motorcade”.
The New York Times said on Tuesday that “The White House press corps, which normally has access to the president’s public events wherever he travels, has been sequestered in buses 200 yards from the site of the Group of 20, without access to food or toilets.”
In response, a Chinese source told China Daily that the US, brushing aside common journalistic practice in multilateral meetings, insisted on having a bus carrying about 20 US reporters follow Obama’s motorcade directly to summit hall where closed-door meetings were held.
Normally, however, host countries of major multilateral meetings have journalists gather as a pool in the news center and have them go through routine security checks before they are led to the meeting hall.
Another source at the scene told China Daily that “the bus was of course not allowed to join the motorcade, according to press rules, and we arranged for the reporters to go to the news center. But some of them chose to stay on the bus, while some went to the bathrooms or the press center at the summit.”
The New York Times reported that when Xi and Obama took a leisurely stroll after dinner on Saturday, “Chinese security cut the number of US journalists allowed to witness it to three from the original six, then ultimately to a single reporter”.
But a second Chinese source said China “had never promised to allow six reporters”.
“Because the lakeside path was too narrow for that many reporters, we proposed one on one – one reporter from the US and the other from China. Later, the US agreed it was a good arrangement,” the source said.
When asked about the meeting between Xi and Obama and the so-called incidents, Mark Toner, deputy US State Department spokesman said at a news briefing on Tuesday that the “small incidents that took place on the periphery” do not take away from “the strong cooperation that we’ve had with China on a number of fronts over the past several years of this administration”.
A Chinese source said: “It is common to make some demands, but the demands should not cross the line. The US should not be an exception.”
The sources added that no other country demanded the privileges that the US sought, and “China had every reason to provide convenient arrangements to foreign reporters” because it wished to successfully host the summit.
By Zhang Yunbi and Wu Jiao(China Daily)
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