Chinese instantly like their new leader, Xi Jinping
November 16, 2012Jing GaoOne Comment18th party congress, 5 mao, First Lady, Hu Jintao, Internet censorship, jiang zemin, Li Keqiang, Peng Liyuan, Politburo, political reform, Politics, princeling, Wen Jiabao, Xi Jinping
(Note: for the full video of the new leadership debut with Chinese to English interpretation, go to Youku)
The results of the selection, oops, election of Chinese new leadership were finally revealed. There was no suspense as to who will be the next president and premier, but educated guesses over the rest five spots on the Politburo standing committee, China’s top governing body, did not stop until the last minute.
And the answer came terribly late – the press conference for the much-anticipated new seven members was scheduled at ‘around 11 a.m.’ on Thursday, but the state-run Xinhua did not break the news until 45 minutes later, and by then the new leaders still had not taken the stage, despite hundreds of cameras pointed at the entrance of the East Hall of the Great Hall of the People. At least millions in China and around the world were glued to their TV sets and computers waiting for the debut, while grumbling on social media sites about how unpunctual the new leadership was, in cleverly coded messages, of course.
China Central Television, the state broadcaster, invited three experts to its studio (left), who kept rambling on for over an hour, as more than 500 journalists inside the East Hall waited anxiously for the seven members to come out.
刘长: I am so sympathetic with those three guys on CCTV. In order to warm up the party for the new boy band F7, these three bros have already chatted their hearts out and are now on the verge of spitting blood, while those hidden behind just won’t come out. What do they want?
何三畏: 11:25 already. It remains unclear what’s happening in the secret chamber, and you SOB are still ass-kissing on TV!
周申申：Okay, I’ve learned a new word today: “around”. From now on, if anyone asks me my age, ‘Around 20!’
CCT无V：So they’ve decided to roll the dice? But there are only six sides, so they still haven’t determined the seventh one.
牛华勇：If they are still not gonna come out, should I visit the temple and burn incense to pray for the peace of our nation?
At about 11:55 a.m., they finally strode out in one line, led by Xi Jinping, the new general secretary of the Communist party, to great fanfare. Xi introduced his six other colleagues, including Li Keqiang, ready to take office as the new premier next spring, before delivering some sort of inaugural speech, then the most-watched red-carpet event in China, as netizens called, was over.
But the online crowd clearly relished the chance to gossip about the man who is going to helm the country for the next decade. More important, Xi, who had seldom, if ever, had his voice heard on state television prior to this appearance, left a very good first impression with his affability on ordinary Chinese people, who have evidently grown tired of Hu Jintao’s stiff and uptight image and Wen Jiabao’s super-slow monologue. Besides, Xi’s wife Peng Liyuan, who, as a folk singer, became a household name long before Xi was anointed as the next leader, continued to pique the public curiosity about the first family despite having been out of the spotlight for years.
“At least our leader has changed from a socially awkward person back to a confident one.”
“Judging from the body language, the new boss is quite confident, able to control and a relatively strong self-awareness. Should be able to make some advancement. A fruitless decade is quite unlikely.”
“…Among the new big brothers, the most nervous one was ZGL (Zhang Gaoli). The most relaxed one was Xi. Xi’s opening speech is quite good. The conventional and scripted speech can be considered casual and affable…It’s neither stiff and rigid, like Hu, nor flamboyant and affected, like Jiang (Zemin) and Bo (Xilai).So I will give him 60 points (out of 100).”
“Spoke in quite a normal manner. The goal of this country is nothing but: becoming normal.”
“The Chinese nation has finally arrived at a time when the talking speed is normal!”
Left: Xi Jinping (left) and his predecessor Hu Jintao (right)
“So the major achievements of this meeting are: 1, eye glasses have been taken off; 2, the talking speed is back to normal; 3, the Mandarin Chinese is more standard; 4, the First Lady is finally presentable.”
“Not an exaggeration: the entire world is expecting a photo of Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Xi Jinping side-by-side.” “Getting better and better, better and better…”
Some began to parse Xi’s phrasing, which, as scripted as always, represents some change for the better from leaders of previous generations, who always peppered their speeches with stock jargon and/or literary quotations.
“In his speech, this new president, who looked casual in his attire, did not heap gratitude or praises on his predecessor, and used less senseless bureaucratic language. If he could speak without notes, he would come off more like an affable grandma living in the hutong alley…The reform may be slow, but at least it won’t be at a standstill. It makes people more confident about China in five years.”
“Round-up of the Congress: …It did not mention the predecessor, or holding high the great banner, or ‘Three Represents,’ or ‘Scientific Development’, or harmony and stability, or political reform, or democratic supervision. It mentioned the leadership of the party, intra-party supervision, Chinese characteristics, prosperity for all, socialism. The delivery was smooth and calm. No bureaucratic language or cliché. The General Secretary talked about the people instead of the party construction. ”
“The secretary office burned the midnight oil, and finally came up with a copywriting proposal that both 5 mao (wu mao, 50 cent party, or pro-government conservatives) and liberal opinion leaders find acceptable. The General Secretary did a nice job in reading his script. He is low-profile and pragmatic. This can be said as a successful ending. Compared to the opening of ‘not taking the evil road,’ this meeting, in a nut shell, ended with subdued (ping, as in Xi Jinping) winds and calm (jing, sounds like jin in Xi Jin-ping) waters after boisterous waves (sounds like Jintao, as in Hu Jintao)”
One Sina Weibo user (@孙礼纪事), who is also a commentator, even juxtaposed Xi’s speech with the one delivered by Hu Jintao ten years ago, and provided a text analysis. (Click on the image below for an enlarged view)
However, not everyone is bullish about the future under the new rule. Those who keenly analyzed the background of the seven members pointed out that only one of them, namely Li Keqiang, is potentially a reformer. The rest six belong to either the ‘princelings,’ who are the children of party seniors (including Xi himself), or to the ‘Jiang faction’, who are protégés of former President Jiang Zemin, a conservative who was promoted in the aftermath of Tiananmen massacre for his strong arm.
In fact, just when netizens were fervently celebrating the settling of the political dust, the censorship apparatus clicked into overdrive, and internet moderators were squeamishly deleting web comments on Xi Jinping and the new lineup. Evidence? Almost all of the Weibo posts cited in the article have been taken down, and the two posts below really captured how the moderators took it too far.
“No sooner had the emperor taken throne than they rushed everywhere to deleted the empress’ photos. How busy are these eunuchs!”
“I have a farmer friend, whose sow gave birth this evening. He posted a photo and wrote, ‘Congratulations on the birth of a litter of piglets.’ You know what? Sina deleted the post!”
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