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Viewers Criticize Chinese TV Handling of Historic Presidents' Meeting


FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a Nov. 7, 2015, summit in Singapore. Leaders of political rivals China and Taiwan met Saturday for the first time in more than 60 years.

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a Nov. 7, 2015, summit in Singapore. Leaders of political rivals China and Taiwan met Saturday for the first time in more than 60 years.

Chinese state television coverage of the historic meeting between the leaders of Beijing and Taipei is drawing criticism from Internet users in China.

China Central TV aired remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping – with some edits to omit the Taiwan leader's name – as they occurred. But CCTV returned to its studio when President Ma Ying-jeou spoke. The state TV broadcast portions of Ma's speech two hours later.

The leaders of mainland China and Taiwan met Saturday in Singapore – the first meeting between the two sides' leaders since 1949, when the People's Republic of China was declared at the climax of the Chinese Revolution.

FILE - Activists protest against the Singapore meeting between Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou and China's President Xi Jinping on Nov. 7, 2015, outside the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taipei, Taiwan.

FILE - Activists protest against the Singapore meeting between Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou and China's President Xi Jinping on Nov. 7, 2015, outside the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taipei, Taiwan.


Xi and Ma agreed to address each other as “mister,“ not “president,” to avoid controversy, since both sides claim to be the legitimate government of China.

But when Xi began his speech by saying, “Respected Mr. Ma Ying-jeou,” that phrase was not heard on CCTV’s live broadcast. Similarly, when Xi said “Thank you, Mr. Ma Ying-jeou” at the end of his speech, the audience heard only “thank you.”

Xi did not address reporters afterward. CCTV did broadcast a news conference by Zhang Zhijun, director of mainland China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, but had no coverage of a corresponding news conference by Ma Ying-jeou.

Some mainland Chinese expressed disgust with CCTV’s methods. One Web user on the social media site Weibo said, "CCTV’s so-called ‘live’ coverage will be a public controversy, and will be recorded as a disgrace in the history of China’s TV news reporting."

FILE - Protesters rally Nov. 7, 2015, against the meeting of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and China counterpart Xi Jinping in Singapore outside of the Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan.

FILE - Protesters rally Nov. 7, 2015, against the meeting of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and China counterpart Xi Jinping in Singapore outside of the Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan.


Another said the state TV's failure to broadcast the Taiwanese leader's speech live "shows the [Beijing] government lacks confidence."

Some believe Ma's speech was skipped during the live broadcast because propaganda agencies needed time to review his text and decide if it could be aired to the Chinese people. Mainland Chinese media are heavily controlled by the government, which frequently prohibits reports on subjects deemed sensitive by officials.

CCTV has not responded to a request from VOA for comment on its coverage of the Ma-Xi meeting.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin Service.

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