OBAMA: First of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter, but I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The irony there, George, of course, is that -- that town meeting was not broadcast across China. Blogs that reported on it were shut down. On the other hand, the administration says they made progress behind closed doors.
WILL: Well, it must have been behind closed doors, because in -- in the open doors, he had a press conference at which no questions were allowed. This was, it seems to me, a studied, calculated insult to the president. And if George W. Bush had conducted a trip like this, where he got nothing except insults, this town would be incandescent.
ISAACSON: Well, you know, he's right. The free flow of information is crucial for any economy that wants to grow in the 21st century, which is why I'm not as big of an optimist about China's economy in the long run or worried about revaluing the currency, which everybody said Obama should do. I think the market will take -- you can't jawbone currencies that well over the long term. And I'd rather bet on an economy like India where everybody's trying to invent Google apps than an economy like China, where they're trying to censor the Google apps, and that's what he's talking about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, of course, the -- the prime minister of India coming this week. But to pick up on George's point, Bob, I think any president who went at this time probably would have done something similar to what President Clinton did on his trip. I think -- President
Bush likely would have handled himself the same way, probably faced more criticism.
Is this just reality now, in that one of the things we have to deal with is the fact that our relative -- our power relative to China is declining?
REICH: We do not have a strong hand. Obama did not have a strong hand going to China. I don't know exactly what the trip was arranged to
do, what the objective of the trip was. And I think one of the problems, George, is that he went there without any clear indication of objectives, came back without anything, and made himself open to the charge that we are weak and that he was basically used by the Chinese.
But, George, your point is exactly right. We are now in a position where the Chinese are our -- our major lender. We owe them a great deal of money. They are keeping our economy going, in a way, right now. They are growing at an extraordinary rate. They are not nearly as big as we are as an economy, but they are certainly moving in that direction. We need them much more than they need us, and they know it.
CHENEY: I think that...
WILL: One -- except they need us in one particular. The only real threat to that regime right now would be large-scale unemployment in China that could destabilize it. That depends on selling flat-screen televisions and microwaves to robust American consumers.
REICH: Exactly. And that's why the yuan is not going to go up, because it's a social program.
REICH: Keeping their currency low is a social program for them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Chinese did show again this week that they are still somewhat in fear of their own people, which is why they clamped down so...