Premier Wen shows China’s best face to the world

Wen Jiabao

SCMP reports: “The image projected by Premier Wen Jiabao on his many travels abroad, analysts say, fits in with China‘s attempts to project its soft power.

“When Premier Wen Jiabao went overseas he would often seize the chance to show the personable side of the Chinese leadership to overseas audiences, who sometimes perceive it as stern and rigid.

“In addition to serious business talks and deals, Wen would chat with ordinary citizens and on some occasions delivered remarks considered sensitive that were downplayed by the state media at home.

“In contrast to the serious, stiff look of most Chinese leaders, who appear reluctant to express their personal feelings, Wen, who will step down in March, commonly referred to Chinese idioms and poems, allowing others to get a glimpse of what he thinks.”

“Professor Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong KongBaptistUniversity, said Wen’s approach was a concerted effort to deliver an image that many overseas people “are happy with China” – at a time when Beijing is becoming increasingly assertive.

“One notable example was when Wen played baseball with students at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto in 2007, on trip aimed at getting Sino-Japanese ties back on track after a visit to Tokyo‘s controversial Yasukuni Shrine the previous year by then Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. In that game, Wen wore a baseball jersey with the number 35, symbolising the anniversary of the countries’ diplomatic ties. Three years later, Wen was seen jogging in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park. On another trip to Tokyo last year, he even asked popular Japanese boy band SMAP to sing a song to him.

“Visiting Indonesia last year, Wen launched into a version of a traditional Moluccan folk song, ‘Ayo Mama’ (Let’s Go Mama).

“He has also raised eyebrows with his calls for political reform. In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in October 2010, Wen said he would advance the restructuring of China’s political system to the full extent of his capabilities. ‘I will not fall despite the strong wind and harsh rain, and I will not yield until the last day of my life,’ Wen said in the interview – a remark that was censored on the mainland.’ He made similar call on his Indonesia trip. And in Britain and Germany last year, when China was criticised for arresting but later releasing outspoken artist Ai Weiwei , Wen pledged that China would uphold democracy.

“‘Without democracy, there is no socialism. Without freedom, there is no real democracy,’ Wen told the Royal Society in London.”

Source: SCMP “Premier Wen shows China’s best face to the world”

Categories: Politics & Law

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