Chinese President Hu Jintao was kept well-insulated from controversy during his visit to Ottawa on Thursday, thanks in part to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office, which went to some lengths to keep Hu away from media outlets that have been critical of the Chinese government.By contrast, Hu Jintao was in Washington yesterday on a U.S. state visit and held a joint press conference with Obama. We saw an uncomfortable Jintao being needled about human rights.
The PMO, reportedly bowing to terms laid out by the Chinese consulate in recent weeks, organized Hu’s visit around specific demands to keep two media outlets away from the proceedings — New Tang Dynasty TV and the Epoch Times, according to sources.
In the four public appearances in Ottawa on Thursday between Harper and Hu, media contact was kept to an absolute minimum, with no press conference, as is standard procedure when foreign leaders visit Parliament.
While press conferences may inevitably produce platitudes, they are still important parts of the democratic process. One should have properly happened here in Canada, this summer, during Jintao's visit.