If you’re sick of Christmas telly, Xinhua have got a treat for you: top CPC leaders' early life photos released.
Not just early life either. We have Xi doing the Tony Blair thing and dealing with a football like he knew what it was for. We also have incoming Premier Li Keqiang scoffing instant noodles while impersonating a man of action.
They’re a bit retro by global standards of charisma insertion. You sort of expect Xi to be pictured wearing a black polo neck and handing a box of milk tray to a confused rural granny. We are given shots of him and his wife and daughter larking about. I’ve a nasty feeling that he wants a first family mystique erected about him.
Guff it may be, but it seems to be working:
Many others even went further and concluded that such special profile reports may be the start of a new era in China’s political life. Netizen 青衣刀笔吏 commented: “No more blind worship, officials are back on earth. This is an indication that China is shifting from one-man rule to elite rule.” 幽嗅迷迭香 was even more optimistic: “I see the dawn of China’s freedom and democracy.”
Oh well. Disillusionment is how you learn. The paradox here is that China’s leaders keeping their family lives secret always seemed partly to do with the post-Mao elite consensus; an agreement to limit the extent to which they could use party organs to erect personality cults around themselves. But in an authoritarian context, that gave rise to the suspicion that they reserved privacy for themselves while forcing openness on the public. Hence perhaps someone identified an opportunity to combine pseudo-modesty with image building.
Elsewhere, the authorities have kindly allowed the Great Helmsman Memorial Glee Club to celebrate the 119th anniversary of Mao’s birth.