G20: The view from Chinese media

BEIJING — The 11th G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, China, now is history. Considered a significant public diplomatic event and an opportunity to showcase China’s leadership in tackling global issues, the Sept. 4-5. Hangzhou summit became a big event for the Chinese media.

China Daily, China’s national English-language newspaper with a global circulation of 900,000, published special editions of the G20 summit Sept. 1-6. Its coverage emphasized developmental issues as an important theme on the agenda, and that China continues to be a key player in global growth.

Other government-sponsored news organizations such as China Central Television, China’s only national TV broadcaster, and Xinhua, a national news agency, prominently placed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s full-text opening remarks on their websites. On Sept. 4 a variety show – Hangzhou is most memorable – directed by Zhang Yimou, a film laureate and director of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was live broadcast by CCTV. The gala dovetailed traditional Chinese arts and modern holographic technology.

Hangzhou is known for its southern-style natural beauty, cultural heritage and silk products. In social media Chinese Internet users chitchatted about summit leaders’ Hangzhou shopping sprees, and Brazilian President Michel Temer was spotted shopping for a pair of $120 leather shoes downtown. First ladies not only went to stores, but watched exhibitions of Chinese calligraphy and paintings, and attended silk clothes shows.

Chinese media covered Xi and Obama’s unofficial talks by West Lake in Hangzhou.

Coverage of Obama’s plane stairs problem after Air Force One landed in Hangzhou was barely found in official Chinese media. On Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog service, there was a video of a Chinese official who said, “This is our country, our airport. OK?” to his U.S counterpart. His remark quickly became a hit and got some positive comments. A Weibo user remarked, “Nice job. No matter where someone is from, he needs to follow our rules while he is here. So does the (U.S.) leader.” Another user commented, “I hope there are more Chinese who have the confidence to say ‘this is our country and this is our airport.’”

However, some other internet users warned it was important to stay calm as there were potential conflicts between China and the U.S. In WeChat, another popular social networking site, some posts proposed journalists should cover more important issues on the Group of 20’s agenda, rather than make a fuss over the stairs.


Author’s note:  Dr. Fu is assistant professor at Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics.

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