Chinese websites removed references to communism and dissent from translations of U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration address, as state media urged him not to ignore progress made by the former administration in forging ties between the two countries.
The official Chinese translation of the speech, credited to the website of the state-run China Daily newspaper, was missing the word "communism." The paragraph with the sentence on dissent had been removed entirely.
Websites for the state-run Xinhua News and top Chinese internet portals Sina and Sohu also omitted the word communism and the section on dissent, while another popular portal, Netease, cut the paragraph that referred to communism.
A Chinese-Canadian commenter on Netease later posted the censored paragraph in English, said Reuters.
In his address to more than one million people at his inauguration in Washington Tuesday, Obama said: "Recall that earlier generations faced down communism and fascism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions."
He later added: "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
The country's state broadcaster, China Central Television, also abruptly cut away from the live feed of the speech when the Chinese translator said the word communism. The program quickly shifted to a news anchor, who appeared caught off-guard before asking an analyst a question about the economy, said reports.
Wang Jianhong, deputy director of the CCTV general editing department, said he did not stay up to watch the inauguration broadcast but suggested the transition was a normal part of the program.
"There are breakaways even when broadcasting China's own meetings," he said. "Americans might care a lot about the presidential inauguration, but Chinese may not be very interested."
China drew international criticism last year for stifling protests in Tibet ahead of the Olympics, while 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of China's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.
Praise for Bush administration
An editorial in the China Daily urged Obama not to forget progress made by former U.S president George W. Bush in improving relations between China and the U.S.
"After decades of dramatic ups and downs, the once volatile relations are just beginning to show signs of stabilizing," it said in an editorial.
"To many, former president Bush's eight years at the helm of U.S. foreign policies were full of disappointments. The yet-to-be-justified war on Iraq, for one, proves an outstanding discredit to his country and himself. President Obama vowed to put an end to that. Which is correct, and overdue.
"Yet let us be fair and honest — the Bush years were not devoid of merits. Anchoring relationship between the world's single superpower and the largest developing country is no easy job. But the Bush administration managed it."
China has previously altered the words of U.S. officials. A 2004 speech in Shanghai by former vice-president Dick Cheney was broadcast live on state-run television at the insistence of U.S. officials, but the Chinese transcript of the remarks deleted references to political freedom.
In 2003, the memoirs of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's nominee for secretary of state, were pulled from publication in China after the government-backed publisher removed references to Tiananmen Square.