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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
China media blank out Hu protest
A heckler prompted Chinese TV coverage to switch to the studio

China's official media has not covered any controversial aspect of President Hu Jintao's US visit.

Chinese TV channels broadcasting live coverage of the White House ceremony welcoming President Hu tried to make sure no one saw a Falungong protester shouting at him.

Shanghai's Oriental Satellite TV was showing President Hu beginning to speak, when background shouting was faintly heard.

The video was quickly interrupted as the channel switched back to the studio anchorwoman, who summed up the leaders' speeches in an apparent effort to prevent the noise from being heard.

China's state-run flagship channels CCTV-1 and CCTV-4 chose not to carry the events live, preferring correspondents' summaries. At the time of the heckling incident, CCTV-4 was showing a special programme on President Hu's visit entitled "Voice of Peace From China".

CCTV-1 and CCTV-4, respectively the domestic and international channel of Chinese state television, carried the president's visit as their top items in their Friday news programmes.

They blocked the signal

But all their bulletins airbrushed out the heckling incident and some even dropped the White House welcoming ceremony altogether, preferring reports on Mr Hu speaking to business leaders in Seattle and visiting Boeing.

Major international news networks CNN and BBC, which can be seen in upscale residential compounds and hotels mainly catering to foreigners, were blacked out when footage was about to be shown of Mr Hu being heckled, reports said.

Human touch

Many Chinese newspapers have focused on President Hu's human touch during the trip, as well as the larger trade and economic issues at stake.

"Hu Jintao dons baseball cap," headlined a special page devoted to the trip.

"Worker sheds tears after hugging president," the Beijing News reported in its coverage of Hu's visit to the Boeing company, showing a large photo of a smiling Hu hugging a local supervisor.

Human rights remain a contentious issue between the two leaders

Beijing's People's Daily, the Communist Party Central Committee's daily newspaper, devoted two full pages to the visit.

Mr Bush's remarks at the welcome ceremony urging China to improve human rights were ignored by People's Daily domestic and overseas editions, but Hong Kong newspapers Wen Wei Po and Apple Daily did cover Mr Bush's criticism.

Website swipes

The bulletin board "Strong Nation Forum" on the People's Daily website Renmin Wang carried a wider range of opinions from internet contributors, some fondly referring to President Hu Jintao as "Brother Tao" or "Brother Hu."

So I want to ask: CCTV, what have you been doing?
Strong Nation Forum

"Brother Tao is already at the White House. Bush is welcoming Brother Tao with the highest honour. He is now ready to review the US Armed Services' honour guard. Firing of the gun salute! It rocks!" said one posting.

However some expressed anger at the lack of live coverage on China's central television CCTV.

"Brother Hu's visit to the United States is such a sensational top world event, yet the CCTV actually did not broadcast the event live. Instead, it aired telephone interviews and what not, making us unable to witness Brother Hu's charisma," one posting said.

"At the present time when IT is highly developed, we cannot even witness major world events as they happen. That is extremely regrettable. So I want to ask: CCTV, what have you been doing?"

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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