AN ODE TO BIG BROTHER
Earlier today, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a formal visit to the official Xinhua News Agency, an event that will probably, in the coming days and weeks, shed further light on media policy at the very top in China.
So far, state media have not revealed the content of Xi’s remarks during the visit. But it is possible that this visit — like that made to the People’s Daily by his predecessor, Hu Jintao, in June 2008 — will provide a more comprehensive expression of current media policy.
For the moment, we must settle for a brief news release on the visit. Just a few lines long, this story reveals how one Xinhua editor acquainted Xi Jinping with the agency’s ‘News Scene’ (现场新闻) app. Xi reportedly responded by clicking into the special page on the app devoted to his visit, which was called, “Liking News Workers Across the Country” — “like” used here in the Facebook sense. The president liked the page himself, after which the screen immediately showed “Like +1.” And the editorial staff on hand said to the general secretary: Your encouragement is our motivating force.
That sounds like a setup. Of course it was. And of course that was the point.
But while we wait for a full-text or summary version of Xi Jinping’s speech to emerge, we can luxuriate in a poem written for the occasion of Xi’s visit by Pu Liye (蒲立业), a deputy editor at the news desk who used to work on the agency’s Internal Reference Desk.
This steaming heap of sycophancy has already — in a matter of just hours — become a classic on social media platforms like WeChat. Pu, who writes under the pen name Pu Zhuozi (朴拙子), is inspiring tears of laughter and ridicule.
I’ll begin with translation and leave the rest of Pu’s pulsating language to your imagination.
General Secretary, My Eyes Follow in Your Wake
By Pu Zhuozi / February 19, 2016
On this occasion, the thunderous applause
Drowns out the traffic along Xuanwumen.
Today, the distance is finally closed,
We listen to Big Brother’s earnest words and wishes.
You smile and cup your hands in greeting: “I wish you all
A happy New Year, and felicitations for the Year of the Monkey!”
General Secretary, my eyes follow in your wake
And in these eyes, my verse takes shape.
My mobile grows hot as my fingers write.
But for so long this poem has been brewing.
It gnashes at my guts.
It clinches my veins and nerves.
It pitches on the Yellow River and the Yangtze.
It runs along the Great Wall.
It joins the camel bells of the One Belt One Road,
And the mighty wind of the high-speed rail.