Informal and catchy greeting for Hu sparks reaction from bloggers
The mainland's vibrant internet community is buzzing over the catchy greeting to President Hu Jintao displayed during the opening ceremony of the World Expo.
The greeting Hu ge hao (hello brother Hu), was projected on a screen-surfaced steel structure in Expo Park, against the backdrop of the Culture Centre, where Hu and other world leaders watched the opening gala.
It was not clear who ordered the direct, bold yet very informal greeting, which usually suggests affectionate familiarity in Chinese, to the country's No1 leader in such a high-profile way, but it attracted widespread discussion in mainland cyberspace.
Many compared it with an episode in the parade for the national day of 1984, when students from Beijing University hoisted a banner saying, 'Hello, [Deng] Xiaoping' to show their affection to the late paramount leader when marching in Tiananmen Square.
Visitors at the expo 'smiled knowingly' at the greeting and filmed the 'surprise display of these three characters', according to a report carried by china.com.cn, a website operated by the State Council Information Office.
Some internet users said they were disgusted by what they saw as blatant fawning over Hu. 'At least back then it was students who voluntarily made the banner and showed their affection. But last night's greeting can't be from ordinary citizens - it must be a message from official channels,' one internet user said. 'Sounds like someone is trying to fawn over our president,' wrote another.
The absence of Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening ceremony, described by many as 'shockingly boring', also became a topic in chat rooms although two other Politburo Standing Committee members, Wu Bangguo and Jia Qinglin , also did not feature in the live show. Many believe the premier had to stay behind in the capital while other state leaders went to Shanghai. Some assumed he would appear at the closing ceremony.
Hu declared the expo open at the gala attended by 20 other state leaders who watched the largest fireworks show in history.
But the fireworks, branded as more spectacular and expensive than that for the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing 2008, drew widespread criticism for being costly and polluting. Organisers said the fireworks show produced little smoke and debris and was a showcase of the expo's attempt to hold a 'green expo', but internet users complained about the noise, smoke and smell and sneered at the 'low-carbon' promise by the organisers.
Some said the money should have been spent on earthquake survivors in Yushu. 'The fireworks of the World Expo does not light up the debris of Yushu,' one internet posting said.