China

Politburo boy band? An alternative take on China's new leaders

BBC illustration for Chinese censorship piece
Image caption Surprise, surprise: Chairman Xi is still in charge

China has unveiled its new generation of leaders. With President Xi Jinping cementing his already solid grip on power, the news was not lost on politically-aware online commentators in China and elsewhere, who gave it a somewhat different spin.

Chinese users reading the tea leaves

"This is as exciting as every time Apple unveils its latest iPhone. Wake me up when something actually happens," wrote Ju Wei from the capital, Beijing, in response to a post by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV News on Sina Weibo, the Chinese micro-blogging platform.

"Still the same faces. No changes there."

Oh well.

But it was a subject of interest for other Weibo commentators. Several threads about congress proceedings sprouted up on the site, where many Weibo users aired their views (and grievances) on their president's "predictability" and the apparent lack of a successor.

Mandy Zhu Lu offered some Weibo wit and insight with this prediction: "Chinese are pretty smart people. We can predict the future, especially when it comes to our politics. I'm sure we all foresaw who was going to be our next president. And I'm calling it here: Xi Jinping will be our leader for the next eternity - place your bets here if you think this will come true."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption 'No one loves China more than Xi', said Weibo netizens

So where were all the women?

Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng are now the seven most powerful men in China.

But where were all the women? It was a subject of interest.

"Women hold up half the sky, just ask Mao Zedong. So why do I not see any Communist Party women among the guys," remarked Weibo user Chan JingFei.

"I think this line-up says a lot about China's view of women. Male chauvinism is sadly not out of place here," said another Weibo user.

But there was one woman in the long line-up, as pointed out by the BBC's China Editor Carrie Gracie. Sun Chunlan is the only woman in China's number two decision-making body, the Politburo.

'The Politburo boyband'

While the issue of women being under-represented in Chinese politics was hotly debated, so were the ages of President Xi and his comrades.

All in their 60s, they donned carefully-choreographed black suits and coloured ties. In fact their ages are all-important, because none of them is quite young enough to be a future leader -leaving many to speculate that President Xi plans to stay in power for some time beyond the expected decade.

That didn't stop the inevitable boy band jokes.

"Here to promote their new hit album, Socialist Beats," joked one Weibo post.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Taking the stage: Xi Jinping and his political 'boyband'

The sharing president?

So the absence of a next generation leader inevitably triggered commentary about just how long President Xi intends to rule.

"No one loves our country more than Xi Jinping. That's why he won't share," said one netizen.

"Pity the United States couldn't follow Xi's example and adopt this rule to their presidents," said another.

Over on Twitter, Beijing-based economist Christopher Balding posted a not-very-serious Twitter poll on Mr Xi's successor.

With 268 votes (and counting), the odds may just be in favour of Mark Zuckerberg's new daughter, August.

Do you need a lift?

Shortly after the reveal, social media users noted the surge in shares of a very fortunately-named lift company.

Huning Elevators, bearing the same name as the newly-promoted Wang Huning, immediately shot up following Wednesday's announcement.

And then there was this peculiar Reddit thread.

With an innovative use of facial recognition technology, Redditer everest4ever combined the faces of "1014 Chinese officials in central government and high-level local government" to create a new Chinese official, a man that represents "The Average Face of Chinese Bureaucracy".

Image copyright everest4ever/Reddit
Image caption "The Average Face of Chinese Bureaucracy", as created by one Reddit user

What a time to be alive.

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