Date
17 August 2017
Blogger Zhou Xiaoping (right), who has been lauded by President Xi Jinping at an art conference last week, has also been praised and criticized by netizens. Photo: weibo.com, China.com.cn
Blogger Zhou Xiaoping (right), who has been lauded by President Xi Jinping at an art conference last week, has also been praised and criticized by netizens. Photo: weibo.com, China.com.cn

Blogger praised by Xi Jinping caught in the eye of online storm

Zhou Xiaoping, a 33-year-old blogger, may be a celebrity of sorts after being praised by Chinese President Xi Jinping but he is in the eye of an online storm.

Xi, at a conference on art and literature in Beijing on Wednesday, encouraged Zhou and another blogger to continue to deliver “positive power” to society through their posts.

But Fang Zhouzi, a muckraker, pointed out some “obvious factual errors” in a point-by-point rebuttal of an article of Zhou. 

And Fang said he has since been blocked from major media websites.

In the past week, several state media have released articles asking people to forgive Zhou for the mistakes in his blog, “defend his right to speak” and “cherish his patriotism”.

In his article, the pro-establishment writer said the price for an iPhone is about US$800 in the United States but retailers on Taobao.com are selling iPhones for about US$400. ”Which one is cheaper?” he asked his readers, implying China is a better place.

The point here is Zhou ignored mentioning the iPhone models. So US$400 may only be enough for an iPhone 5 on Taobao while the new iPhone 6 Plus with 64 GB storage is priced at US$849 in the US.

Although search engines still show links to Fang’s personal pages on mainland websites, the pages have “evaporated”.

Many people praised Zhou, saying he teaches people to love instead of criticize China.

But on Douban, a popular book review site, 96.2 percent of 2,955 netizens gave only one star out of five for “Please Do Not Fail This Era”, a book containing a selection of his articles.

One netizen said opinion leaders with different political views have never been so united before as they simultaneously criticized Zhou on Weibo.com.

And how quickly state media changes its mind!

Xinhua news agency mentioned the controversy and criticism over Zhou in a report on Oct. 15. However, the report along with its reposts were soon removed from major media websites.

Anti-communist website Ntdtv.com likened the conflict of authorities’ attitudes toward Zhou to a wrestling match between Xi and Liu Yunshan, head of the Secretariat of the Communist Party Central Committee.

It claimed it was arranged for Zhou to meet Xi at the conference “as a tool to defame the president”, citing political observer Tang Jing.

Do you think Xi had read Zhou’s articles before their handshake?

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EJ Insight reporter

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