Xi Jinping

Censors delete vice-president's jibe

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 February, 2009, 12:00am

Media outlets told to exclude Xi Jinping's comments about foreigners

Mainland censors yesterday quickly removed reports of an unusual outburst by Vice-President Xi Jinping during his visit to Mexico, in which he lashed out at a 'small' pocket of foreigners for pointing fingers at China.

Two mainland media sources told the South China Morning Post that mainland media outlets had been told to delete news items that include video footage of the outburst and to stick to the reports from Xinhua and People's Daily without the quote.

During a speech at a Chinese community gathering in Mexico on Wednesday, Mr Xi said the country had made its utmost contribution to the world by feeding 1.3 billion people during global financial turmoil.

'But some foreigners have nothing better to do after their stomachs are full and so point their fingers at what we're doing,' Mr Xi said.

'Firstly China does not export revolution, secondly we don't export hunger and poverty and thirdly we don't make waves with you. What else can you say about us?'

The frankness of the man tipped to be China's next president provided a rare insight into the character that has set him apart from the nation's often staid and cautious leaders.

Before being deleted, the quote was widely picked up by mainland media outlets and made its way into internet chat rooms.

The statement struck a chord with some for what they perceive as a hawkish stance against western countries, while leaving many others bewildered.

Sun Zhe, director of Tsinghua University's Sino-US Relations Research Centre, said he felt the tongue-lashing was peculiar as there had not been any apparent provocation during the gathering.

But he noted that the colloquial expressions Mr Xi had used could indicate an easygoing nature and a sense of heightened assertiveness among leaders in Beijing, particularly over the so-called Chinese model of development.

'Now many in China believe the country is capable of looking after itself,' said Professor Sun, citing an initiative late last year to develop a human rights action plan.

Niu Zhongjun, a professor from the China Foreign Affairs University, noted the nation was often criticised for its human rights record and perceived as a political and military threat. The country was also recently blamed for contributing to the global financial meltdown with its huge currency reserve and savings.

The professor said Mr Xi might have wanted to use the informal occasion as an opportunity to express leaders' unhappiness with the negative perception of China in the western media.

Professor Niu said Mr Xi's choice of colloquial Chinese expressions and his frankness were justified as the occasion was an informal gathering of a largely Chinese audience.

He said his comments should not be interpreted as a sentiment against the west.

'But Mr Xi might become the next Chinese president and people in the west should listen to what he said.'

Additional reporting by Ivan Zhai