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An online fan club for China's premier

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 2, 2007

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao - the unelected head of China’s government – may not have to worry about winning approval or votes from ordinary Chinese but he has cultivated his image enough to have become the unlikely subject of an online fan club. According to this helpful post from Joel Martinsen on Danwei, one of the best English-language blogs written inside China, the premier has an online following on Tianya, the social networking site that last month formed an alliance with Google. (More on Google’s China strategy here in this BW story.) Not only has Wen received his own petname - “Baobao” – but an online photo of a dashing-looking Wen from decades ago has won him more admirers, with the Taiwanese press comparing him to a Hong Kong matinee idol.

Some things never change, though. That photo of Wen, it turns out, originally had two other people standing next to him. In the version that’s online, our hero is on his own, and the other two have conveniently disappeared. Martinsen writes “these two photos have circulated online amid speculation that Wen’s two companions were scrubbed out for political reasons. That might be the case, but it’s more appealing to imagine that the PS-work is the doing of someone with a crush, who felt that the other two men simply got in the way.” Maybe. But there’s probably a good political reason to dump those two. With their drab, ill-fitting clothes and bad haircuts, they make the stylish Wen look a bit modern, even sort of hip. Maybe that’s the problem – the Chinese government is trying to solidify its populist credentials, so a photo showing Wen as a youth standing out from the ordinary folk is not exactly what the spin doctors ordered.

Reader Comments


September 4, 2007 12:01 PM

Wen Jiabao reminds me of Zhou Enlai. Like Zhou, Wen is humble yet clever and cautious.

Btw, I'm sick of western media hypocrisy such as the unelected leader or party. Or accusing CCP to be afraid of social unrest that can lead to the falling of the party. Well, which political party in power that is not afraid of losing power?

Min Feng

September 4, 2007 9:31 PM

I am absolutely in an aggrement with the comments above! The western media knows little about China. Well, they think they know, which is a pity.


September 5, 2007 12:38 AM

Actually, PM Wen Jiabao has a fan group on facebook as well.


September 5, 2007 9:58 AM

Is "election" (interchangable with "democracy" by Western media, of course the asian Indians as well) inscripted in your holy bible?

Even Wen was not "elected", nor was Hu Jintao, Zhu Rongji, Zhou Enlai and Hu Yianbang and Deng Xiaoping, all these Chinese leaders are way qualified and most with impeccable character and personal calibre than their western "elected" counterparts.

"Election" does not always let the best candidate to come out and win. But, it will always let the candidate who can best market and sell himself or herself, and best manipulate the public oppinion, and best impose himself or herself as trustable, and best cheat and lie to the public, to win.

More proofs?
1. In the corporate world, which company has and would elect the CEO based on employees' general impression?
2. Which great power in the past or current ascended that status due to their "elected" great leader? Well, except modern day USA. But, was George Washington elected by the general public?
3. If democracy is so great, why most failed nations are actually so called "democratic"?


September 7, 2007 4:00 AM

Democrocy is not about getting the most qualified people elected. It's about the freedom and rights to vote for the one you think the most qualified. I'm wondering who has a say that Hu Jintao, Zhu Rongji, Zhou Enlai and Hu Yianbang and Deng Xiaoping are best qualified for the leader in China.


September 7, 2007 7:47 PM


To answer your question "Who has a say", let me say this: Whoever made Jack Welch the CEO of GE had the say.

BTW, I did not mean to nullify "democracy" or "election" as a valid or good means of choosing a country's officials. What I did mean was, it is not a only way. Also, whether a democracy works or not largely depends on the country's cultural, economic, demographic, and historical backgrounds and conditions. It may works or works well for US and Europe, but it does not work for other countries.

Greg Warner

June 5, 2009 10:38 AM

Zhou Enlai was one of the three greatest men of the 20th Century.

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