Chinese president Xi Jinping emperor photo lands The Economist in hot water

Xi Jinping emperor photo lands The Economist in hot water

Staff Reporter, 2013-05-07

XiJinpingEmperor-161247_copy1

Xi Jinping as Qianlong, left, and a previous cover from The Economist likening Xi to an emperor in waiting in October 2010. (Photos courtesy of The Economist)

A doctored photo featuring China’s new president, Xi Jinping, wearing a traditional emperor’s robe is said to have deeply offended the Communist Party leadership. Xi, who is also the party’s general secretary and commander of the People’s Liberation Army, was featured on the front page of the May issue of The Economist magazine wearing a yellow robe with an illustrated dragon on the chest, and a glass of champagne in hand. “Let’s party like it’s 1793,” reads the magazine’s headline, a reference to the year the Qing emperor Qianlong rejected British envoy Lord Macartney’s request to open an embassy because China does not have “the slightest need for your country’s manufactures.” The title of the feature article is “Xi Jinping and the China dream,” and questions exactly what Xi means by his new doctrine, noting that it seems to “include some American-style aspiration, which is welcome, but also a troubling whiff of nationalism and of repackaged authoritarianism.” The article, which outlines the difficulties Xi faces in realizing his dream of unifying a diverse and growing China, seems to have hit a nerve with the Communist Party, as The Economist’s website was blocked in the country shortly after its publication. Detractors of Xi’s regime have said online that his “China dream” and emperor’s robe are both figments of the imagination. Despite calls for more freedom and fairness, the Chinese government continues to target free speech and rights activists and remains plagued by official excess and corruption, netizens said.

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