Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Does China Bashing Make People Stupid? Lei Zhengfu/Associated Press Edition

[Update: the girl shown in the photo is merely a random image; Chinese media reported she is a university student in Xiamen and she has nothing to do with Lei Zhengfu.  My apologies.  Further details on the Lei case here.]

Alexa Olesen of Associated Press wrote a piece on the Lei Zhengfu sex tape.  Fine article.

I’m assuming she’s not responsible for the title: Sex tape used to bribe Chinese official goes viral.

A more accurate title should be: Sex tape used to blackmail Chinese official goes viral.

I guess the genius at AP who tacks the titles on these things decided that “Chinese official as victim of blackmail scheme” did not adequately reinforce the “Chinese officials are corrupt” meme and decided to come up with something that fits better with the current zeitgeist.

He could have gone with “Sex bribery of Chinese official turns out to be sex tape blackmail” but that doesn’t scan too well.

How about “Tatooine Council Cans Jabba the Hut Over Princess Leia Sex Tape”?  

It is a source of great puzzlement and distress to me that the interwebs have not yet generated a photoshopped depiction of this striking image.  I’m a busy man, so this is the best I could find:

Actually, a headline that conveys the true context of the episode would be “PRC Leadership Piggybacks Anti-Corruption Drive on Top of Chongqing/Bo Xilai Purge”.


The Lei Zhengfu sex tape is actually a significant story, primarily because the government let the expose happen.  

In the coming weeks, I think “correcting abuses in Chongqing” will be used as a convenient jumping off point for a variety of central government reform initiatives that are actually intended to be national in scope.  Instead of challenging the strongest, most entrenched governmental/party/SOE interests at the center or in the provinces, the CCP leadership will be going after the weakest, most discredited elements of the decimated Chongqing power structure first.  

Perhaps the example of Lei Zhengfu’s public humiliation and the demonstration of the power of China’s web and media to drive the national discourse is meant to show the economic and political powers that be that Xi Jinping & Co. possess an effective tool to overcome institutional resistance to the expansion of their rule and policies both in the center and at the provincial/municipal level. 

It’s an interesting story.  Wonder who’ll cover it.  And who will write the headlines?

Lei/Jabba image from http://www.chariweb.com/2012/11/lei-zhengfu-commie-sextape-star-comes.html

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