PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 6:19pm

Netizens deride Xinhua over Jiang comments


Amy Li began her journalism career as a crime news reporter in Queens, New York, in 2004. She joined Reuters in Beijing in 2008 as a multimedia editor. Amy taught journalism at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu before joining SCMP in Hong Kong in 2012. She is now an online news editor for Amy can be reached at, or follow her on Twitter @AmyLiSCMP

The centuries-old Chinese saying "noble character and sterling integrity" (Gao Feng Liang Jie) got a new meaning when it was used on China's Sina Weibo in reference to former president Jiang Zemin. Only this time the expression was used sarcastically. 

This occurred after Jiang, who stepped down as president over 10 years ago, requested the central committee put his name behind current members of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, along with other “senior comrades”, the Xinhua News Agency  reported on Wednesday. Many in China are surprised Jiang would do this after being out of office for so long.

The Xinhua report surfaced after journalists covering the funeral service of General Yang Baibing on Tuesday discovered the wreath bearing Jiang’s name appearing behind the name of President Hu Jintao, party general secretary Xi Jinping and current members of the Politburo Standing Committee.

Xinhua explaining Jiang's request said: “This reflects the Communist Party member’s noble character and sterling integrity.”

The state news agency's sycophantic rhetoric was quickly mocked on China’s twitter-like service Sina Weibo, where the phrase “noble character and sterling integrity” has gone viral in hundreds of parody messages posted by netizens.

For instance, bloggers used the expression with a photo of US President Barack Obama at a meeting with colleagues.

“President Obama has requested that he sit in the back row in future meetings. This reflects the Democrat Party member's noble character and sterling integrity, ” read one cynical post.

But another blogger, in reference to Jiang, asked: “Would Obama even appear on an official list 10 years after he retired?”.



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