Chilling history lesson for 'no' voter in Xi election

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 11:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 March, 2013, 5:01am


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While an overwhelming 2,952 delegates voted yes for China’s newly elected President Xi Jinping on Thursday, the only  “no” vote has attracted considerable attention and debate on China's social media.

Discussions around the “mysterious” voter resumed on Sina Weibo on Friday after the word “no vote” was censored on social media by authorities.

For some commenters, it brought to mind the fate of a past delegate widely believed to have voted "no" in Mao Zedong’s election as head of the new communist government in 1949.

According to some historical accounts, Zhang Dongsun, a philosopher and former CPPCC delegate, was later destroyed by Chairman Mao for his alleged actions. He was accused of selling national secrets a few years after Mao’s election, and expelled from the CPPCC.  

Zhang was arrested at the age of 82 in 1968, two years into the Cultural Revolution. His family didn’t know where he was locked up until 1973, when they were notified by authorities that Zhang had died in Beijing's Qincheng prison.

Of Zhang's three sons, two committed suicide during the Cultural Revolution, while his eldest son was arrested and tortured, according to some accounts.

“Zhang paid a high price for a no vote,” commented a blogger. “Let’s hope this time the person will not be prosecuted.”

Other netizens shared differing theories. “Did Xi vote 'no' himself?”, wrote a blogger, “Or was it just a show?”

“This is some progress for China’s democracy,” wrote journalist Zhang Lifen on Weibo. Zhang is a senior editor at the Financial Times, and editor in chief of its Chinese language Web site. 

Zhang said he didn’t’ understand why state media intentionally left out the tally in their coverage,

“Were they embarrassed because the percentage was too high?,” he wrote, “Or was it stlll not high enough for them?”