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Southern Weekly interviewed US president Barack Obama

If you get the chance to interview US president Barack Obama, what questions would you ask?

Southern Weekly, surprisingly, was hand picked by Mr. Obama to do an exclusive interview while he was visiting China last week.

Guess what questions the newspaper asked. Huma rights, freedom of speech, or internet blockage? Maybe, but none of these appeared in the published version. (full transcripts in English from white house website )

Here’s a list of questions from the published interview:

  • Favorite about the trip to China
  • Spare time to play basketball
  • China-America cooperation in Asia-pacific area
  • Schedule to acknowledge China’s market economic status
  • US restrictions on high-tech export to China
  • Policy on not restrain China’s rise

The interview was conducted by the Editor-in-chief of the newspaper and one of its senior journalists.

Many readers expressed their dissatisfaction about these unpointed questions, and some even displayed their contempt, because Southern Weekly has been acclaimed for its bravery of revealing social problems and government scandals. But this time, they failed readers’ expectation.

The article, together with a photo of Mr. Obama during interview, occupied only the upper half of the page; on the lower half, there was huge space, with two lines of words in the center saying “Not everybody can become a big shot, but all can understand China right here.”

The implication is that the space was there because the newspaper had no choice but having to cut out certain parts of the interview, thus leaving a huge space on the paper.

One of its senior editors also said that Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China were angry about this interview so that they sent out decrees banning other media and online websites from republishing the interview.

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