Obama spoke as if to push China's leaders to admit restricting some rights of its people. Hu Jintao listened to a guest criticizing his host's country, a pot calling the kettle black to boot.
Neither Hu or Wen Jiabao would lower themselves to defend China or argue back and point to the U.S. intrusive surveillance of its own citizens, arrest and unlimited years of imprisonment of thousands without charges, torture of suspects, the capture and rendition of anyone anywhere, denying Afghanis, Pakistanis, and earlier Iraqis and Somalis, human rights of any kind, even the right to live and not be collaterally bombed to death in the targeting of suspected indigenous insurgents against US military occupations.
Most Americans won't care much how the Chinese perceive Obama. Only their own evaluation of his power and performance is really important. But in the land of Lao-tzu and Kung Fu, lack of awareness and disinterest are noticed as a sign of dullness of mind, indolence or stupidity.
In Shanghai the students listened politely, as Obama praised his own country's 'freedom of information,' "the truth is that because in the United States information is free..." Self praise is not good form anywhere and millions of Chinese know that a claim of freedom of information in a nation where a conglomerate owned media cartel dominates and controls most of what citizens see, hear and read is an empty claim.
For more examples of inappropriately forward behavior see Obama Will Speak Less of U.S. Leadership When He Gets to China
Obama vows a "full U.S. role in Asia." (curiously while practicing less than full role in the U.S.) He stresses U.S. leadership while in Japan a subservient political ally, and talks tough to N. Korea, perhaps somewhat unbecoming for the commander of the greatest military superpower on Earth. Asians will expect to hear less overbearing statements of U.S. leadership assumptions from Obama during his 3 day stay in Beijing. OEN, November 16, 2009
As his former pastor says, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, "Obama is a politician and does what politicians do." In this case Obama felt obliged to be obliquely critical of China while is he there so that capitalist media can quote such passages prominently for the audience back home. (and of course leave unreported the humility expressed when he noted that blacks, "a person like me" 50 years ago, had trouble voting in parts of America."
China has, apart from its ancient and highly refined culture, a single revolutionary party in control creating "socialism with Chinese characteristics." The U.S. is younger and has a two party system proclaiming freedom and democracy with both parties confined to supporting capitalist governance of an overexpanded economy and an aggressive military that is out of control.
The Chinese sat back and watched the U.S. destroy Afghanistan and Iraq twice over while strengthening their economy and armed forces, just as the Japan built itself up while America weakened itself in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Korea.
While America raided, Japan and China traded.
While the U.S. was running around confronting imaginary enemies, fighting, losing to weaker nations and losing face as well, the two Buddhas were getting stronger.
Maybe not Obama nor the corporate imperialists controlling U.S. foreign policy believe "that we can ever completely eliminate violence between nations or between peoples," but ordinary working people, artists and musicians the world over, including the Chinese and most Americans, do.
And the obvious way to end the violence is to get to know well all the nations and cultures inside that part of Mankind that is outside one's own nation. The Chinese for making up more than a fifth of humanity's population are important to understand.