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The Last Time President Xi Took a Question From an American Correspondent? 2014, and Yup, It Was Me

时报内情

习近平上次接受美国记者提问是在3年前,是我问的

BEIJING — When President Trump and President Xi Jinping turned away from their flower-draped lecterns here on Thursday without taking questions from reporters, the sense of a missed opportunity spread through the cavernous room in the Great Hall of the People.

北京——周四,特朗普总统和习近平主席从装点着鲜花的演讲台上转身离开,不接受记者提问。宽敞的人民大会堂大厅内,一种错失良机之感弥漫开来

American presidents typically use such visits to persuade inaccessible, often autocratic, foreign leaders to face the news media. I was a beneficiary of that custom in 2014, when Mr. Xi stood next to President Barack Obama in the same building, having grudgingly agreed to take two questions — one from a Chinese and one from an American correspondent. Mr. Obama’s aides had haggled for weeks with Chinese officials to extract that agreement. They were so driven, in part, because Mr. Obama had come under sharp criticism in 2009, during his first visit, when the Chinese did not allow questions during his appearance with Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao. (Journalists had been able to ask questions during visits by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.)

美国总统通常会借访问之机,说服难以接近的、往往比较独断专行的外国领导人面对新闻媒体。2014年,当习近平在这个大厅内会见奥巴马时,我也是这个惯例的受惠者之一。习近平勉强同意接受了两个提问——一个由中国记者提问,另一个由美国记者提问。奥巴马的助手与中国官员争论了几个星期才达成了这个协议。促使他们这样做的部分原因在于,在奥巴马2009年首次出访中国会见胡锦涛时,因为中方不允许记者提问而受到了尖锐批评。(比尔·克林顿和乔治·W·布什总统访问时,记者是被允许提问的。)

And so, on Nov. 12, 2014, as I was preparing to join my colleagues for the bus ride from our hotel to the Great Hall of the People, I was pulled aside by Eric H. Schultz, then Mr. Obama’s deputy press secretary, who told me to expect to be called on at the news conference.

因此,2014年11月12日,当我正准备与同事一同从酒店乘车前往人民大会堂时,我被时任奥巴马副新闻秘书的埃里克·H·舒尔茨(Eric H. Schultz)叫到一旁,让我准备在新闻发布会上被点名提问。

2014年在北京人民大会堂举行的联合新闻发布会上,中国国家主席习近平在听取《纽约时报》记者马克·兰德勒(站立者)的提问。

Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

2014年在北京人民大会堂举行的联合新闻发布会上,中国国家主席习近平在听取《纽约时报》记者马克·兰德勒(站立者)的提问。

The White House’s choice of The New York Times was laden with symbolism. At the time, the Chinese government had declined to renew the visas of several Times correspondents in China as a reprisal for its coverage of the financial dealings of Chinese leaders and their families.

白宫选择纽约时报是一个十分有象征性的举动。当时,中国政府拒绝为时报驻中国记者续发签证,以报复时报对中国领导人及其家属财务往来的报道

Asking questions of a president is nerve-racking under any circumstances. But when I heard my name called by the press secretary, Josh Earnest, in the Great Hall, it felt like stepping to the plate at Yankee Stadium.

不论在何种情形下,向一名国家领导人提问都是令人十分紧张的。但当我在人民大会堂内听到新闻秘书乔希·欧内斯特(Josh Earnest)叫出我的名字时,感觉自己就像是走上洋基体育场的本垒准备击球。

I stood up and, with camera bulbs flashing, asked Mr. Xi two questions: Did he view Mr. Obama’s Asia pivot as a threat to China? And would China ease its refusal to give visas to correspondents in light of a broader visa agreement it had just signed with the United States?

我在相机的闪光灯之中站了起来,向习近平主席提了两个问题:在他看来奥巴马的战略转向对中国是否是一个威胁?中美刚刚签署了更大范围内的签证协议,中国是否会撤销对记者拒签?

I also asked Mr. Obama a somewhat long-winded question about the rise of anti-American sentiment in China, which prompted him to say, “Come on, Mark,” and joke, after I was finished, that he had forgotten my question (I assumed that was for the benefit of his host).

我也问了奥巴马有关中国出现反美情绪的问题,有些冗长,这使奥巴马用“拜托,马克”和说笑话的方式来回答。当我问完,他似乎忘记了我的问题(我猜想这或许是为了他的东道主着想)。

At first, President Xi looked as if he was going to simply ignore the impudent foreigner. He instructed the moderator to move on, taking a scripted question from a Chinese state-owned paper. Mr. Obama, who was clearly eager to hear Mr. Xi’s answer, shot me a glance and a theatrical shrug, the presidential equivalent of “nice try, buddy.”

起初,习近平似乎是想要直接无视我这个“无礼的外国人”。他示意会议主持人继续,接受了一个中国国有媒体事先准备好的提问。明显也想听到习近平答案的奥巴马总统往我这边看了一眼,夸张地耸了耸肩,这相当于总统在说“兄弟,你尽力了”。

It turned out that Mr. Xi was merely biding his time. After he answered the Chinese journalist, he circled back to me and delivered a curt lecture. No, he said, the pivot was not about containment. And the visa problems of The Times were of our own making.

事实证明,习近平只是在等待时机。当他回答完中国记者的提问后,他绕回了我的问题,给我们上了一堂简短的课。不,习近平说,战略转向不在于抑制,还有,时报记者的签证问题是自找的。

China protected freedom of expression, he said, but “media outlets need to obey China’s laws and regulations. When a car breaks down on the road, perhaps we need to get off the car to see where the problem lies. And when a certain issue is raised as a problem, there must be a reason.”

习近平表示,中国保护言论自由,但“媒体必须遵守中国的法律和规定,一辆车如果抛锚,都要下车检查哪儿出了毛病。”

“In Chinese, we have a saying,” he concluded. “The party which has created a problem should be the one to help resolve it.”

“中国人讲,”他总结道,“解铃还须系铃人。”

As the White House press corps filed out of the room, one of my colleagues joked that he hoped the Chinese would allow me to leave the country. The Chinese media reported that I had violated the ground rules by directing a question to Mr. Xi, rather than only to Mr. Obama. (The White House did not instruct me to address only the American president.)

当白宫媒体记者们走出大厅时,我的一位同事开玩笑说,但愿中国人还能允许我离开这个国家。中国媒体报道称我违反了只能向奥巴马总统提问的基本原则,直接对习近平提问(白宫没有指示我只能向美国总统提问)。

The whole negotiation was somewhat opaque, Mr. Earnest recalled this week. Even as he stood next to the leaders in the Great Hall that day, he said he was not sure the Chinese would follow through on the agreement.

欧内斯特本周回忆了那段往事,他说整个谈判过程有些令人摸不着头脑。即使那天他就在人民大会堂站在领导人旁边,也不能确定中国是否会遵守协议。

The episode apparently did not sit well with the Chinese. On Thursday, Mr. Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “It was at the Chinese insistence there were no questions.”

这次事件显然引起了中国的反感。周四,特朗普的新闻秘书萨拉·哈克比·桑德斯(Sarah Huckabee Sanders)表示:“中方坚持不允许提问。”

Former aides to Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush criticized the Trump White House for not trying harder.

奥巴马和布什总统的前助手纷纷批评特朗普政府不够努力。

“They always insist, Sarah,” Susan E. Rice, who served as Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said in a tweet. “The trick is to use diplomacy to extract that concession as a matter of principle, despite their resistence.”

“他们一向坚持的,萨拉,”曾任奥巴马的国家安全顾问的苏珊·E·赖斯(Susan E. Rice)在推特上表示,“诀窍在于,就算有抵抗,也要把这作为原则问题,用外交手段争取到让步。”

Brad Dayspring, deputy director of press advance for Mr. Bush, tweeted, “Never got everything we pushed for, but always expanded access from Chinese demands & ensured questions were taken alongside Chinese President. It’s an important demonstration of American press freedoms.”

曾任布什政府媒体沟通副主管的布拉德·德斯普林(Brad Dayspring)发推称:“我们的意图总会有一些实现不了,但总能在中国的要求中得到更多接近机会,并确保中国主席回答问题。这是对美国媒体自由的一种重要展示。”

In Tokyo and Seoul, Mr. Trump took questions with the leaders of Japan and South Korea. But striking a blow for press freedom did not seem high on his list of priorities in Beijing. He did not say whether he had pressed Mr. Xi behind closed doors on human rights issues.

在东京和首尔,特朗普与日韩领导人一起接受提问。但为媒体自由而战似乎不是特朗普北京之行的重点。他也没有透露是否在会后就人权问题向习近平施压。

Mr. Obama, by contrast, got mileage out of the episode. Two days later, he was standing next to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, in the garden of her lakeside house in Yangon, and brought up the tense Q. and A. in the Great Hall of the People.

相比之下,奥巴马却能从那次事件中获益。两天后前往昂山素季的仰光湖边宅邸,与这位缅甸亲民主领袖在花园中比肩而立时,他提到了在人民大会堂上的紧张提问。

“When I am traveling, it is important as the president of the United States to not just talk about our interests, but also to talk about our values,” Mr. Obama said. “Sometimes it has an impact; sometimes it doesn’t.”

“当我作为美国总统出访时,不光要谈论我们的利益所在,还要谈我们的价值观,”奥巴马说,“这有时候会有影响,有时候没有。”

“Although I was impressed that Mark Landler got an answer to his question from President Xi,” he added. “It might not have been the one he was expecting, but he did end up taking the question. So you just keep on chipping away and seeing if we can make progress.”

“我很钦佩马克·兰德勒(Mark Landler)能让习主席回答他的问题,”他还说,“可能并非他预想的那样,但他终归还是回答了。所以就只能一点点地改变,看看我们能不能取得一些进展。”

翻译:纽约时报中文网

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