Underneath Official Pleasantries, Chinese Media Alarmed by Syria Strike During Summit

Official Chinese media covered the U.S.-China summit in Florida with a unified voice.  Almost all the reports focused on the “friendly” exchanges between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

And then there were the social media commentators – brash, sarcastic and worried.

Usually when Xi travels, China’s state-run media provide extensive coverage, but it wasn’t until late Friday that it reported more than the most basic details. According to the official news agency Xinhua, the two leaders “held extensive, friendly and long talks,” with both sides praising gains in bilateral relations and agreeing to further relations to benefit the two peoples.

The usually hawkish Global Times headlined Xi’s remark that “We have a thousand reasons to better the bilateral relationship, and not a single reason to make it worse.”

Xinhua also reported that Xi extended an invitation to Trump to visit China, an invitation Trump accepted, according to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The “friendly” atmosphere surrounding the Thursday night banquet and the “warm” speeches delivered by the leaders also found favor with Xinhua, which covered the U.S. military strike on Syria as an event unconnected to the meeting.  Instead, it reported that Trump’s grandchildren sang a Chinese folk song and recited classic verses for the leaders earlier Thursday.

There were, however, some expressions of alarm at the Trump administration’s decision to bomb an air base in Syria and the timing.

The lead commentary under the category of Military Affairs on Global Times’ website ran under this headline: “Trump Uses Syria to establish his Authority; Russia will not take this lying down.”

Social media commentators didn’t hold back. Here are some reactions they posted on China’s microblog website Xin-Lang, or New Wave:

Stubborn Rabbit: The focus of the Xi-Trump meeting is on the war against North Korea that’s about to start; Trump is going to ask China to deploy ground troops.

Bug: Salute to the tough Uncle Trump! U.S. President Trump says to Xi: I have just signed “the US bombs Syria” (agreement), (just as the famous poet Su Shi of the Song Dynasty once said,) “an enemy’s infrastructure goes up in smoke in the midst of laughs and polite conversation.”


Pure Grapes: So much news these last couple of days; my head is exploding. Syria Strike (Pure Grapes own phrase) not only eclipsed the Xi-Trump Summit, but also got Neil Gorsuch confirmed, and, on top of that, ensured that Hillary’s interview, where she for the first time openly criticized Russia’s role in the US election, got ignored.  Well-played. (Note: English phrase and italic Pure Grapes’ own.)

Imperial Merchant: THAAD deployment prior to the meeting, missiles during the meeting; those 60 bombs (against Syria) sure beat the 21-gun-salute!  (US) has to turn the situation in the Middle East and Asia even more chaotic … and has to cut (President Xi’s) one-belt, one-road initiative alive!  All this while saying “I’m happy to receive the visiting Chinese leader …”

(This report originated with the VOA Mandarin Service)

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