Wen Jiabao

Wen's star-gazing poetry reveals his lofty ideals and pragmatism, say analysts

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2007, 12:00am

Premier Wen Jiabao, known for his penchant for turning to poetry at politically sensitive moments, waxed lyrical yesterday, with analysts saying he was expressing his political stance and desires.

The modest four-paragraph, rhymed effort in contemporary Chinese entitled Gazing Up at the Starry Sky was published in yesterday's People's Daily, preceded by a few sentences he wrote for millions of students who began their first week of the new semester on Monday.

'I encourage students to look up at the sky often,' Mr Wen wrote. 'A nation where people care about the sky is a hopeful nation, while a nation whose only concerns are under its feet has no future.'

In his latest literary offering, a rhapsodic Mr Wen, who turns 65 this month, was in awe of the sky at night, evoking images such as flames and thunder and reeling off a list of lofty concepts such as truth, freedom, justice, hope and glory.

'I gaze up at the starry sky; it's deep and wide, infinite truth; I seek, pursue and painfully try,' Mr Wen's poem opens.

Hu Xingdou , a Beijing-based political scientist, said the premier was couching his political views in poetry ahead of the next month's party congress.

'Wen is a liberal at heart,' Professor Hu said.

'But China's unstable political milieu mellowed him out. He's learned to be flexible and make compromises.'

The poem revealed both a romantic premier who still holds dear his youthful ideals and also his cautious side, which has contributed to his ability to survive and rise in a volatile political climate over the years.

'He's an idealistic pragmatist and a down-to-earth reformist,' Professor Hu said.

'Both left and right accept him. That's why he can reach the pinnacle of government.'

Liu Junning, a veteran watcher of mainland politics, said Mr Wen used this emotionally positive poem to expound on his fighting spirit, which the mild-mannered premier was not so often known for.

Rumours that the premier might resign next March due to ill health have recently circulated in the Japanese media.

'He wants to show that he's not tired as those people said he is and that he's not going to retreat,' Mr Liu said. 'He wants to show he'll fight on.'

Wen's personal touch and clean image have won many supporters at home and abroad.

But at the same time he is viewed as a less strong and decisive political figure than his predecessor, Zhu Rongji , and less capable of carrying out painful reforms.