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BEIJING – As state media reports have it, China's President Xi Jinping is dispelling all concerns about cyberhacking, the economy and the South China Sea during his U.S. trip, and relations between the two countries have never been rosier.
Xi's seven-day trip, from his visits to Boeing and tech giants to his casual, open-shirt stroll with President Barack Obama through White House gardens, is receiving blanket coverage at home. Prime-time news bulletins start with at least a quarter-hour of coverage of Xi, along with his famous wife, former singer Peng Liyuan. The applause and ovations at each stop — the airport, Boeing plant, a Washington high school he once visited 21 years ago — are shown in their entirety.
"I'm very proud of China's getting ever-more stronger," Beijing resident Zhang Yanhua, 49, who works as an editor, said in an interview on a downtown sidewalk. "When I saw President Xi Jinping and his wife on TV when they arrived in Seattle, the way they talked with local officials made me feel that they are indeed the embodiment of a great country."
The state media coverage has acknowledged that frictions do exist, but have focused more on the areas of agreement and cooperation — the better to portray Xi as the well-received statesmen while China seeks to bring itself alongside the U.S. in what Xi calls "a new type of major-country relationship."
State media outlets have reported that Xi managed to reassure the U.S. business community of China's economic health and successfully dispelled concerns about two key issues for Washington — cyberhacking and Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea.
"There are no two big countries in human history that have had a relationship as close as that between China and the U.S. today," proclaimed the People's Daily.
Some ordinary Chinese see the positivity as superficial.
"It may take a long time to see the two countries develop genuine friendship," said Li Jinglin, a retired man of 67, who added that while China has become more powerful "it's still far from being on an equal footing with the United States."
"Even if we suddenly see the two sides shaking hands, it may not be a sincere relationship. Many problems won't easily be solved without some time," said Li.
The frequent themes in Chinese state media that cast the U.S. in a negative light, such as Washington's moves to contain China, its intervention in other countries' affairs and the high gun crime rate in U.S. cities, have been wiped away — for a week, anyway.
Zhan Jiang, a journalism professor, said that normally in state media reports "you can see some good things and some bad things and even quarrels between the two countries such as about hacking, maybe even including human rights quarrels."
"But if you are accustomed to China's system, you know that all things can be changed overnight," Zhan said. "You can suppose that after Xi Jinping's visit, China's media must restore their criticism against American policy."
He added: "This is China."
For the U.S., the main thorns in the relationship are intensifying hacking attacks on American government agencies and companies that officials say originate in China and Beijing's moves to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea.
In China, the focus is on trade and the economy — and ordinary folk likewise are interested in Xi's visits to the big-name companies that they are familiar with, like Boeing, Apple and Microsoft.
"Even though some Chinese companies are thriving, they need to learn from the experience and business ideas of giant American companies such as Microsoft," said Beijing resident Zhao Ying, 29, who runs a bed-and-breakfast business. "And the U.S. will show more respect to China if we improve our capacity and power."
For a break from the dry, official coverage, Chinese are following quirkier reports carried on the big online portals, which are not allowed to report political news.
The top story on the online news portal Sina on Friday morning was that Xi and Obama went for a casual, no-tie look on an evening stroll around the White House.
Even some of the reporting from the official media outlets was occasionally light-hearted. One of the country's state news agencies, China News Service, profiled the hotel where Xi and his delegation are staying in Washington, D.C. It has prepared not only Chinese food, but also "panda-patterned umbrellas" in case it rains.