Wen Jiabao

Media play up Wen in 'Time'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 October, 2010, 12:00am


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Mainland news portals are buzzing over an upcoming issue of the Asian edition of Time magazine featuring Premier Wen Jiabao on its cover and containing a story calling for the United States to do some soul-searching over its ailing economy rather than pointing the finger at China.

The article - written by Fareed Zakaria, host of the programme GPS on CNN - will appear in next Monday's edition. Wen is the second Chinese premier to be featured on the magazine's cover, after Zhou Enlai .

A report in the Beijing newspaper Mirror, which has been featured prominently on all major news portals, said: 'Apparently Premier Wen Jiabao's answer has convinced Zakaria, so he has called for the United States to do a self-reflection in his article and not to blame China for a bad US economy and take an objective view of the [yuan] exchange rate issue.'

Zakaria has interviewed Wen twice, most recently on September 23. In that interview, aired on October 3, the premier touched on political reform, which academics lament has lagged the country's economic development.

In late August in Shenzhen, Wen surprised many by calling for the nation's politics to be liberalised and for people to be granted more rights.

He returned to the topic during a meeting with former US president Jimmy Carter on September 6, and again in the keynote speech at the Summer Davos economic meeting in Tianjin on September 13.

However, mainland media played down Wen's CNN interview, underscoring the sensitive nature of political reform on the mainland.

Professor Qiao Mu , director of Beijing Foreign Studies University's International Communication Research Centre, said the decision to put Wen on Time's cover certainly had much to do with his campaign for democracy and political reform, which struck a chord with audiences in the West at a time when the mainland is perceived to have become less open.

Qiao said Wen's exposure in the American weekly could only mean that he is a newsmaker at the moment. But he said people should not read too much into it.

'He might want to use the international exposure to push for reform domestically, but there is nothing outrageous in what he has said; rather, it's ambiguous. He talks about political reform, but at the same time, he stresses reform will be a long process and there is a need to maintain the status quo.'