Mischievous netizens seize on official's careless remark
A Communist Party official in Henan found himself uncomfortably in the spotlight after his poorly worded comments to a reporter revealed a little bit more of the government's media strategy than he intended.
During an interview about a possibly illegal housing project, Lu Jun, deputy director of the urban planning bureau in Zhengzhou, asked a reporter from China National Radio: 'Are you going to speak for the party or for the people?'
The remark immediately drew fire from the mainland's growing league of internet users, and became a hot topic on forums and blogs, with pranks beginning to flood major chat rooms. Most criticised Mr Lu's comment as exposing the logic common among officials that puts the party against - or even before - the people. Some suggested he should be 'promoted to party spokesman'.
'This director is the first among the party's top leaders, dozens of high-ranking officials and millions of middle-ranking cadres to have spoken the truth,' one wrote on popular forum Cat898.com.
Another said: 'Even if the people want to sack him, the party would not agree, because what he said clearly demonstrated the relationship between the party and the people.'
But the real embarrassment for Mr Lu was only beginning.
Some curious netizens discovered his biography on the Zhengzhou city government website, and his photograph appeared to have been doctored from an image of President Hu Jintao . In the photograph, Mr Lu's posture, hairstyle and outfit were identical to Mr Hu's portrait, but a different face appeared to have been photoshopped on top.
The photograph was apparently withdrawn and his biography no longer bears a picture. An employee from the Zhengzhou Urban Planning Bureau's publicity office refused to comment on the picture and Mr Lu's remark. But he said Mr Lu's work had not been affected.
The photograph inspired artist Ai Weiwei to reproduce a doctored portrait of himself in Mr Hu's suit.
He then juxtaposed the three photographs on his blog.
Within the space of a few days, 'who are you going to speak for?' has become one the hippest internet slang terms used by netizens to vent their discontent with authorities and social injustice. The previous two terms that had been seized upon by netizens were 'hide and seek' and 'doing push-ups'.
In the 'hide and seek' incident, police in Yunnan said an inmate had died while playing a game of hide and seek. They later bowed to pressure from internet users and admitted that the man was beaten before his death.
The 'push-ups' incident involved a girl from Guizhou whose family believe was raped and killed by two young men related to senior officials. Official reports said they were just doing push-ups next to her when she jumped into a river and drowned.