China’s version of ‘The Onion’ takes on Wen Jiabao story

October 26, 2012

(China Daily Show)

Backstory: The family of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has accumulated $2.7 billion in personal wealth, apparently through Wen's connections, according to an explosive New York Times story that was published online Thursday night and promptly got the paper censored in China

China Daily Show, an Onion-style Chinese satirical news site published in English, has picked up the story. There's no better way to ruin a joke than by explaining it, but the article's basic point is that, for all the outrage this story is likely to generate in China, increasingly cynical Chinese might not be so surprised at yet another story of official corruption. Here's how it opens:

Man who is shocked at Wen Jiabao family fortune discovered in Chinese village

LANZHOU (China Daily Show) – An adult male who expressed astonishment at the recent revelations surrounding Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s family wealth has been found in a remote Chinese village, anthropologists claim.

Gansu villager Mo Yuan, 49, told reporters that Wen probably earned around 9,000 yuan a month as a state employee, and added that he thought the central government was doing a good job. 

You can read the full satire here. (Warning: some of the language is profane). It will be interesting to watch the story's popular reception in China, which has indeed seen many cases of high-level corruption. For Wen to be among them, though, could be particularly sensitive, given his high status and image as a wholesome reformer. Censors certainly seem to be taking it seriously.

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Max Fisher | October 25, 2012