Chinese bloggers blast away in chat with officials

By Cheng Guangjin (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-01-22 10:30
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BEIJING - From the response to China's promotional video played in New York's Times Square just days ago, to the aircraft carriers the United States recently sent to the western Pacific, Chinese bloggers have many questions to ask the US, where President Hu Jintao is paying a state visit.

On Friday morning, seven selected Chinese bloggers talked with two Washington officials during a video meeting held in the US embassy in Beijing, while more bloggers joined online.

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Michael Anti, a famous political blogger whose real name, Zhao Jing, is less well known to the public, directed the first question to Jeffery Bader, the US National Security Council's senior director for East Asia Affairs.

"What's the China policy of the Obama administration?" asked Anti, who believes few people think the US has a clear policy toward China.

"We welcome China's rise. We want to have a positive and cooperative relationship with China We want to maximize the elements of cooperation," Bader said.

Anti, one of the 457 million Internet users in China, represents the largest online population in the world, which has become a notable element in the nation's domestic and foreign policy making, according to analysts.

Pang Zhongying, professor of international relations with Renmin University of China, called the bloggers "opinion leaders".

"Through such communication, the government can know what the public thinks of its policies, and meanwhile influence the public by answering their questions," Pang said.

During the nearly one-and-a-half-hour meeting, questions touched upon almost all the thorny issues in China-US relations in the past year.

Ma Xiaolin, creator of the website - a platform for intellectuals to express their opinions - said he thinks there are still many challenges between China and the US, including the Diaoyu Islands and the Taiwan issue.

"Will the US adjust its policies in the future?" Ma asked.

Yao Jin, creator of, shared his experience of a trip to the US in October, which left him with the feeling that most Americans know little about of China.

The video meeting ended in cheerful laughter as the last question came up "what do you think of China's promotional video?"

In answering this question, Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, told a story about Obama's 9-year-old daughter, Sasha, wanting to test her developing Chinese skills this week with Hu.

Wang Di contributed to this story.