The four top English-language Chinese government media outlets – the Global Times, the People’s Daily, China Daily, and the Xinhua News Agency – displayed as their top story on Wednesday morning U.S. time a boilerplate speech by dictator Xi Jinping on “modernization,” ignoring left-wing American President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
Only China Daily featured an article on the State of the Union address on its front page, a dismissive commentary concluding the speech “said nothing at all” aside from “bluff, bluster, and empty threats.” At press time, the other three web pages did not mention Biden’s speech at all.
The president of the United States is bound by law to address a joint session of Congress every year to assess the state of the country, proposing a policy agenda for the next year and typically boasting of any perceived successes of his or her past term. Biden used his address on Tuesday to make dubious claims that the American economy is recovering from the devastation of coronavirus mandates and decades of job outsourcing, promote amnesty for illegal aliens, and support abortion. The more memorable moments of the night, however, were likely First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff kissing and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) heckling Biden loudly mid-speech, occasions that had little to do with Biden’s political message.
Biden mentioned China in a brief portion late towards the end of his speech, taking credit for shooting down a Chinese suspected espionage balloon only after it had crossed nearly the entirety of the country, including Alaska, and insisted he was “committed to work[ing] with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world.”
The scarce reference to China in general and the spy balloon in particular was noted:
Rather than focusing on Biden’s remarks, which made headlines around the world, Chinese state newspapers highlighted an unremarkable speech that dictator Xi delivered on Tuesday to the “National Academy of Governance,” a communist party indoctrination school. The People’s Daily and Global Times both published Xinhua’s coverage of the event.
“The summation and elaboration of the theory of Chinese modernization is a major theoretical innovation achieved at the 20th CPC [Communist Party of China] National Congress,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying, “and it represents the latest major achievement in developing scientific socialism.”
Xi applauded the results of a Party meeting in 2012 and claimed that the time during which he has ruled China has been marked by “more robust institution, stronger material foundations, and a source of inspiration for taking greater initiative for Chinese modernization.”
The description of Xi’s speech in Xinhua did not indicate that he debuted any new policies or made any important announcements.
“Xi stressed that the modernization process of a country needs to follow the general rule of modernization,” Xinhua detailed.
China Daily published its own report on the Xi speech, but it did not offer any information not featured by Xinhua.
“In terms of its top-level design, insights on the general trends of global development and an accurate understanding of the common aspirations of the people are essential,” China Daily reported Xi as saying.
China Daily‘s commentary on the speech dismissed it by comparing the speech itself to a balloon, mocking the spy balloon incident this weekend.
“Biden’s address, delivered with superficial boldness, confidence and energy, had remarkable similarities to a primitive balloon itself. It was full of hot air and empty boasting,” the commentary assessed. “It was lighter than the atmosphere and it had no coherent direction. Like a balloon, his speech drifted with the winds. There was not a single friendly, warm, positive or constructive suggestion in it to improve relations with Beijing.”
In reality, Biden used the speech to call for cooperation with China on “climate” and to boast, once again, of his allegedly close relationship with Xi Jinping.
While Chinese media have largely ignored Biden at press time, the Chinese Foreign Ministry did respond to the State of the Union address on Wednesday. Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning, asked about the speech, appeared to accuse Biden of trying to “smear” China through “competition,” urging Biden to be “objective and rational” about the rogue state.
“The successes of China and the US are opportunities, not challenges, for each other. The world is big enough for the two countries to develop themselves and prosper together,” Mao said. “China does not shy away or flinch from competition. However, we are opposed to defining the entire China-US relations by competition.”
“It is beneath a responsible country to use competition as a pretext to smear other countries and restrain their legitimate right to development, even at the expense of global industrial and supply chains,” she continued. “The US needs to view China in an objective and rational light, follow a positive and practical China policy, and work with China to bring China-US relations back to the track of sound and steady development.”
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