November 16th, 2009
08:38 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama tackles Twitter question in China

SHANGHAI, China (CNN) - It was the one question that got the most attention at President Obama's Shanghai town hall meeting. And it set him up to address the issue of censorship:

"Should we be able to use Twitter freely?"

In a country that routinely blocks access to cyberspace, the president said "I've always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I'm a big supporter of non-censorship.

"I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes."

U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman read the question that President Obama said "was generated through the Web site of our embassy," and added that it was "selected … by I think one of the members of our U.S. Press corps."

But that wasn't quite right.

While Bloomberg reporter and White House Correspondents Association President Ed Chen was asked by an administration official to select a question, he declined. Instead he picked numbers from a bag that the White House ultimately used to get the Twitter question.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. southerncousin

    It sounds like the government of China regarding Twitter is acting a lot like the government of the United States under Obama about Fox News.

    November 16, 2009 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  2. mark

    supporter of non-censorship? is this a joke?

    November 16, 2009 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. Jerry

    I heard the actual response, he said he was to clumsy to type. Not sure what this man is qualified to do at ths point.

    November 16, 2009 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  4. Victoria,MN

    I applaud the president for his honesty and integrity. The students saw a great example of American leadership.

    November 16, 2009 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  5. Tram

    Censorship is wrong, no matter what it is.

    November 16, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  6. Always a Republican

    I've never seen anyone talk for so long and say so little. It's obvious that Obama is not the great speaker that everyone thinks he is, When he doesn't have teleprompters he is lost. He studders, he's lost searching for words.

    November 16, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  7. shmeckel

    "I'm a big supporter of non-censorship" just ask FOX

    November 16, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  8. A.B.

    I think that Hilary Clinton has better things to do with her time, given her current position in the Obama Administration, than to waste her time meeting and talking to Sarah Palin who is irrelevant and a national punchline. Hilary Clinton's time is better spent working on the issues of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. My advise to Hilary is this: FORGET SARAH PALIN AND GET TO WORK!!

    November 16, 2009 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  9. Dan, TX

    I watched the town hall last night. Thank you President Obama for representing the United States so well.

    United we stand, divided we fall. The republicans entire political plan is to make sure we are divided. It will be hard for Americans to stand idly by and watch China, by their hard work, entrepreneurship, and not wasting money through unnecessary wars, surpass the United States as the world's greatest power.

    November 16, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Bubba

    I'm afraid of what might happen if the Chinese could read Sarah Palin's twitterings.

    November 16, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  11. Fools and their freedoms are soon parted

    Wow, how about some HONEST questions, not some prepicked by either the Administration or the Obama fan club (press)?

    November 16, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. Phil

    Come on Mr. President, how in the world can you say you are a big fan of non-censorship when you have been trying to censor Fox News???

    November 16, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  13. Alexis

    Hillary would eat her up alive.

    November 16, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  14. diridi

    we do not need to send any troops to Afganistan...Republicans are acting funny....fix health care with public opition...thanks...

    November 16, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  15. Sam Sixpack

    Free speech for all – except the network who's name may not be spoken. Well, and anyone who doesn't want to pull the plug on Grandma. Oh, and those who won't be able to pay the sky-high deductibles on their new government-required insurance plans. And those who can't find jobs. And those who think communism is a bad idea. And...

    November 16, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. New Yorker

    Riiiight...he means as long as that information isn't coming from Fox News or any other conservative source that won't get with HIS program. I think he would have fared quite well with Mao.

    November 16, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  17. Big D

    "I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes."

    Ya, right...this coming from the man trying so hard to get the country to stop tuning into Fox News.

    November 16, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  18. haren

    Let us bring back Draft so that we can shut up all war hawks of republican party.
    They wanted to fight whole world on somebody else son and daughters.

    November 16, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. Johnny DC

    "I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes."

    Another case of Obama saying one thing and practicing another. Typical Chicago-style politics.

    It's okay for information to flow freely, unless the information contradicts his policies or goals – then the information should be quarantined, ridiculed, and/or tracked for nontransparent purposes to be determined later.

    November 16, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  20. Bpin

    Yep. I just bet the rock star converts China to a democratic nation. He better be careful. China actually owns the US. I don't think folks realize that all China has to do is demand due and payable, and we do not have enough cash to cover ourselves. So liberals, when you are doing all this cheerleading for free health care, I suggest you watch that debt watch clock. It could be the last time you get to cheer about anything.

    November 16, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  21. Enough

    Careful what you say Obama...........they OWN us!

    November 16, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  22. Four and The Door

    "I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes."
    ______________________________________________________
    Is this where he accepts the invitation to sit down for a discussion with Bill O'Reilly on Fox? I doubt it. NBC is much easier for him. They stay away from the tough issues.

    November 16, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  23. Keith in Austin

    But if anyone or any organization differs from his left-wing ideology, watch out!

    This President is a telepromptor-reading empty suit focused on political correctness and Big Government spending!

    November 16, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. Bev

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.......................

    ........." the president said "I've always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I'm a big supporter of non-censorship. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes."

    Seriously, is this a joke??? Obama's FCC czar has said that Hugo Chavez had the right idea-–when he took control of all media sources in Venezuela.

    The Obama Admin has targeted Fox News-–because they freely let information flow.

    What a hypocrite!!!

    November 16, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |