Beauty and the bores

Kent Ewing – Asia Times

Copyright Asia Times
HONG KONG – Do Chinese leaders ever kiss their wives or hug their
children? Surely they do, but you would never know it from the state
media, which portray them all as somber look-alikes in dark suits who
talk only of weighty national affairs before lining up for group
photos that are as stiff and colorless as most of their rhetoric.
That deliberate dullness – no doubt a response to the cult of
personality developed by Mao Zedong and, to a lesser extent, his
successor, Deng Xiaoping – may soon change. When President Hu Jintao
finishes his final term in 2012, in his place China may get not only a
leader but also something akin to the American “first family”. And it
will not be the pedestrian version represented by the current
occupants of the White House, President George W Bush and his wife,
Laura. Rather, it will approach the glamour of the Kennedy
administration.
Although the Communist Party’s 17th National Congress concluded just
last month with the re-anointment of Hu for another five years, the
central government is already preparing the country for its next
leader. Remarkably, he seems to come with a visible conjugal
attachment – and a talented and attractive one at that. Strong spouses
are not totally foreign to Chinese politics – let’s not forget
one-time actress Jiang Qing, or Madam Mao, who was instrumental in
unleashing the Cultural Revolution’s reign of terror – but this is the
new China and a very different kind of first lady is required.
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