Confusing Reports on Xi's Taxi Ride Due to CCP' Inflight?
Ta Kung Pao, Hong Kong-based newspaper, is widely viewed
as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On Apr 18, it published an exclusive report that the CCP'
general-secretary Xi Jinping took a taxi ride earlier this year to learn about his people's livelihood.
This news had drawn wide media attention
and was extensively quoted.
The Xinhua News Agency also confirmed the news
on its microblog.
However, Xinhua suddenly made an about-face
after 5pm the same day, calling the news “fake.”
Was Xi Jinping's taxi ride true or not? The answer is unclear
as the situation has become complicated and confusing.
Chinese scholars believe that power struggle among
party leaders is what can explain the incident.
On Apr 18, Ta Kung Pao published an exclusive report
on page A6, which told the following story.
During the peak traffic hours around 7pm on Mar 1,
a 46-year-old Beijing taxi driver Guo Lixin picked up two passengers near Gulou West Street.
He later recognized that one of them was Xi Jinping
and asked for his autograph.
About 2pm on Apr 18, Xinhua News Agency officially posted
a message on its microblog, saying that the traffic authorities had verified the news.
However, Xinhua suddenly changed its attitude at 5:50pm,
issuing another statement that the report had been confirmed to be fake.
All the reports on the Internet and relevant comments
and microblogs were consequently deleted or blocked.
Ta Kung Pao then also apologized for “its mistake.”
The situation hence became complicated and it was said
that Propaganda Department will make a thorough investigation on the incident.
Chinese Independent scholar Zheng Zhiyao believes
that the news is very likely to be true.
Zheng Zhiyao, Chinese independent scholar: ”You can call
this a political show which attempts to deliver a message
that Xi is always concerned
about his people's livelihood and feelings.
This news does deliver such an important message.
The taxi driver asked Xi to write down the idiom,
“Everything Goes Smoothly” (in Chinese) for him.
The style of those Chinese characters looks very similar
to Xi's calligraphy, compared to his previous signatures that can be found online.”
However, if the news is true, why Xinhua denied them?
Why had Ta Kung Pao apologized for publishing them?
Zheng Zhiyao commented that in the past 30 years, CCP's
propaganda departments had “great achievements” in unifying how news should be reported.
Zheng Zhiyao: ”A newsman should always seek individuality
and truth at the same time. He needs to report the facts, but can do it with unique features of his own.
I think it is completely up to any media
how they would report the news.
The propaganda department attack of Ta Kung Pao
suggests the incident involves rumors and struggle between the two political factions in my opinion.
There are a lot of things happening backstage.”
Wang Zang, Chinese avant-garde poet and freelancer,
agrees that the incident is a result of the intense power struggle inside the party.
Wang Zang, Chinese avant-garde poet and freelancer:
”Official media should be loyal to CCP's Central Committee.
However, there are different factions, like Jiang Zemin's,
Hu Jintao's, or the ones with other backgrounds.
Now Xi Jinping becomes the new leader,
and these groups fight harder with each other.
This leads to further chaos inside the party media.”
Wang Zang remarked that the inconsistent attitudes
of CCP's mouthpieces show that they are manipulated by politics and have no professional integrity.
The party media frequently deliver confusing messages.
This results from the fact that different factions use them as tools in seeking power and interests.
Wang also describes the whole story as a “decoy.”
He remarked that, even if the party leaders really do
something to learn about people's livelihood, it can still be only a show to protect the party's dictatorship.
Wang Zang: ”I don't care whether the news is true or not.
As Xi becomes the leader of a dictatorship regime,
his acts must serve to maintain the social stability and prevent the party from being overturned.
What Xi is doing is only to help the party linger
on its last breath of life.”
On the other hand, Hong Kong's Apple Daily said it was
not possible for Xi to take a taxi ride at the reported time.
Xi had attended two events on Mar 1. He presented
an important speech in the Central Party School and attended a national-level reception.
Apple Daily believes that Xi's tight schedule makes
an incognito travel on the same day almost impossible.
According to Apple Daily's report, Ta Kung Pao's President
Jiang Zaizhong had been “politically wrong” in supporting Bo Xilai last year.
Now he is further troubled with the “fake news incident.”
Probably some high party officials will be responsible for these “mistakes.”
As one of the major CCP media in Hong Kong, Ta Kung Pao
was praised by the Liaison Office and the State Council Information Office.
It was rewarded with money for its “excellent performance”