As Chinese President Xi Jinping began tightening his grip on power in recent years, government officials across the mainland have been jumping on the bandwagon of pledging allegiance to him.
However, as everybody is always praising Xi to the skies, the compliments are often seen as being too ordinary and not creative enough.
Given this, in order to stand out in a crowd, some mainland officials are beginning to coin creative, unsubtle, cheesy and sometimes even tacky phrases when showering Xi with praise in public, in a desperate effort to grab headlines in state media and draw the attention of the paramount leader.
For example, on May 6 at a seminar on ‘learning the spirit of Xi’s series of speeches’, Wang Weizhong, the party secretary of Shenzhen, said words of Xi’s speeches should be carved on bones and melt into blood.
Wang’s creativity did pay off, as his goosebumps-giving remarks immediately grabbed a headline in the front page of a Shenzhen newspaper the next day and brought him much attention.
However, when it comes to the person who is truly the undisputed master of kissing up to his superiors, it has got to be Li Hongzhong, the incumbent secretary of Tianjin Municipal Committee of the party.
In fact Li was the first-ever party official to publicly refer to Xi as the “core” leader.
When Li assumed his current office in September 2016, he publicly pledged his unwavering allegiance to Xi four times within a month.
Then in February 2017, Li again publicly described Xi’s speech as a landmark that points the party to the right direction in a way that transcends history and links the past and future.
He also said that Xi’s speech was the embodiment of his charisma, his profundity as a great statesman, his deep comprehension of the magnificent Chinese culture and his demeanor as a great leader and strategist.
In August last year, Li published an article in the state publication praising Xi’s guidance.
The reason why Li is so good at pleasing his Beijing bosses is that he just knows exactly when and how to hard-sell and soft-sell their orders in the right place at the right time.
For instance, during the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in March, Li told members of the Tianjin delegation that he was so “touched and enlightened” by Xi’s speech, even though Xi was actually addressing members of the Chongqing delegation.
Amid the ongoing frenzy among government officials to praise Xi, some of them just possibly do it to fulfill whatever is needed, while others may be doing it intentionally in order to gain appreciation and recognition from the paramount leader.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 19
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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