Evan Osnos of the New Yorker writes a dryly amusing column on the fallout of the NY Times’ exposee of the wealth of Wen Jiabao’s family members. Some in China see it as a massive conspiracy from the likes of Bo Xilai to feed the Times damaging information about Wen. Others indignantly claim it’s an intentional smear against all of China (big surprise). My favorite reaction is from those who say “What’s the big deal?” Osnos responds:
One of the standard lines going around in recent days has been the notion that this subject is somehow old news, that people already “knew” that Chinese leaders benefit from public office, so why bother? To me, that’s akin to saying that since we “knew” that campaign finance corrupts American government, we shouldn’t have bothered to unearth the crimes of the lobbyist Jack Abramoff; and since we “knew” British tabloids would walk a fine line to get a story, we shouldn’t have gotten so exercised about digging out the details of phone-hacking and the paying of police for information.
These reactions are designed to brush the story away, as is the blocking of the NYT website. Check out the column; the closing lines are killer.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.