Xi’s US trip sets social media abuzz

By Yuen Yeuk-laam Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-24 0:58:01

People-to-people exchanges boost understanding, public interest in US

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the US has attracted unprecedented attention from the Chinese public, suggesting the degree of importance Chinese people attach to Sino-US relations, which is currently facing many difficult challenges, analysts said Wednesday.

The details of Xi's trip have been a topic of much discussion since Chinese authorities announced the schedule, with a focus on where Xi would go and what issues would top his agenda.

The attention further escalated after Xi and Chinese first lady, Peng Liyuan, landed on US soil in Seattle on Tuesday.

Hash tags on Chinese social media Sina Weibo have been created, such as "follow President Xi to the US."

Posts ranged from pondering where in Seattle the president would dine to what the couple would wear.

Some even posted pictures of themselves when they were in Seattle to express their support.

The heat generated on the Internet has also prompted a public relations campaign for some US organizations, such as US's Corporation for Travel Promotion, or gousa.cn, which has taken the chance to promote various US cities - restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions - to the Chinese public.

An official visit overseas by a Chinese delegation has rarely attracted such attention in previous years.

Attention grabbing

Analysts have in general attributed the heat to the increasing interaction between the people of the two countries.

"The rising number of people-to-people exchanges between China and the US have boosted understanding between the two countries and contributed to the Chinese public's growing interest in the US," said Sun Chenghao, an assistant research fellow at Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

In 2014, more than 270,000 Chinese students were reportedly studying in the US, an increase of 16.5 percent from the previous year, media reported. China has continued to be the Number 1 source of foreign students.

The year 2014 also saw more than 2 million Chinese tourists to the US, spending over $23 billion, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office from the US.

Media coverage

Meanwhile, extensive media coverage, ranging from Xi's speeches at different events to deals reached between China and the US, has also sparked much Chinese public discussion.

Many online users also voiced support for Xi and hoped the Chinese leader could bring economic deals and resolve bilateral problems.

Many newspapers launched wall-to-wall coverage of Xi's trip. Details of the trip, including Xi's speech, occupy the headlines of many news websites.

Tao Wenzhao, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the large amount of media reports also boosted attention from the Chinese public.

"Xi's US trip marks Xi's first state visit to the US as China's top leader, the implication of which is very different compared to Xi's previous visits," Cui Liru, president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"The Sino-US relationship is one of the most important in the world. Whether the leaders of China and the US decide to cooperate or not is closely related to the benefits of the two nations and their people," said Tao.

Cui described Sino-American ties as "weighty," which have an importance incomparable to other bilateral relationships.

"China's power has been increasing in recent years, particularly in military and national security areas. The attitudes and decisions of both leaders during the visit will have a great impact on not only the people of the two countries, but also the development of regions and the world," Cui said.

He noted that the rise of China means the country is considered a competitor to the US and therefore their conflicts are highlighted, drawing concerns from the Chinese public.


Posted in: Diplomacy

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