9:02 am - Thursday November 5, 2015

China media: Obama chided for remarks on Xi Jinping

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Barack Obama signed bipartisan budget deal and defence authorisation bill
Barack Obama signed bipartisan budget deal and defence authorisation bill

US President Barack Obama faces criticism in China after he said President Xi Jinping had consolidated power at an unprecedented rate.

In remarks to top US executives on Thursday, Mr Obama went on to criticise Mr Xi on human rights and accused him of worrying China’s neighbours by tapping into nationalistic sentiment.

China’s foreign ministry has said it will study Mr Obama’s comments more closely before responding.

Commenting to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, academic Tao Wenzhao, of China’s Academy of Sciences, says Mr Obama “should have shown mutual respect and tried to understand China’s position, its development path and government”, rather than speaking out.

“The president of the US, even with some constraints, has great powers, yet you don’t see China giving comments on that issue,” he adds.

International relations analyst Jin Canrong agrees that Mr Obama was “careless” but insists the remarks will have little impact on ties.

In fact, he tells the paper, “such careless comments indicate that the two countries’ relations are very stable, otherwise he would have been very careful with what he said”.

Meanwhile, state media are full of praise for comments by Mr Xi calling for the modernisation of China’s military hardware to be accelerated.

Addressing a two-day military conference in Beijing, Mr Xi – who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission – said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) needed to take heed of “changes in both international strategic structure and Chinese national security”, according to the official news agency Xinhua.

China’s relations with several of its neighbours are strained by territorial disputes, and the US has voiced concern about the country’s military build-up. Beijing dismisses these as unfounded.

An editorial in the PLA Daily says the military will “follow through Chairman Xi’s important instruction with determination”, and would ensure its equipment “matches the country’s international status and caters to the needs of national security”.

Welcoming the move, military observer Wu Peixin tells China Daily that while China’s army already has “very competitive equipment”, its navy and air force still “have a long way to go in equipment development”.

But he also warns that China must be careful in deciding what equipment it really needs and a strategic plan, without simply “copying” other countries’ militaries.

‘Great man’ Japan

Elsewhere, papers warn Japan to follow through on moves to ease bilateral tension after Premier Li Keqiang hosted a Japanese delegation in Beijing on Thursday, in what is seen a further sign of a thaw in relations.

Both countries reached a “four-point consensus” last month, aimed at resuming dialogue while acknowledging difference on territorial disputes.

In a front-page commentary in People’s Daily, a member of the 21st Century Committee for China-Japan Friendship says that though ties have improved, the onus is still on Japan to deliver its promises.

“A great man will not go back on his words,” the article reads. “The noble Japanese government is likely to be a great man and not a villain, so it will not treat the agreement as child’s play.”

“Japan, you have no other choice, you should not break your promise again.”

And finally, commentators debate China’s decision to stop harvesting organs from executed prisoners without consent by 1 January.

China has been criticised in the past for the practice, but has struggled to encourage voluntary donations as a result of the traditional Chinese belief that the body must remain intact after death.

In an editorial, the Global Times calls for a change in public attitudes to improve the supply of donated organs, while an article in the Beijing News suggests improvements to the legal and insurance systems could encourage donations.

But not all commentators are convinced by the authorities’ move. While Liu Changqiu, of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, tells theGlobal Times that it represents major progress for human rights in China, human rights lawyer Mo Shaoping says completely ending reliance on death row inmates’ organs is “too extreme”.

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