And Finally

China’s leader in 2044?

Media storm over young ‘politician’, aged 13

China’s leader in 2044?

Huang hits the campaign trail

Mozart was composing symphonies by the time he was eight and Picasso had painted significant works of art by a similar age.

But no one really likes a child prodigy – just ask China’s own wunderkind of the moment, Huang Yibo.

His own achievements are a little more functional, although still worthy of note, according to the local media. By the age of two Huang was watching Xinwen Lianbo, CCTV’s nightly news show, and he’s been an avid fan of the People’s Daily newspaper (no mean feat) since he was seven.

That was a leading indicator, thinks the Wuhan Evening News, as the boy is now a senior figure in the Young Pioneers troop at school.

All Chinese schoolchildren from the age of six join the Young Pioneers, although some join before others, and the best candidates climb the ranks.

Hence photos of Huang in his “five-stripe” armband (an extremely elite ‘Captain Pioneer’) have excited particular interest, says the Shanghai Daily, because many people weren’t even aware that a five-stripe ranking existed. Being a Pioneer affords certain privileges, more than a few of which seem to tip their hat to the Boy Scout movement (members don red neck scarves, for instance). Then again, the analogy only goes so far: their slogan strikes a more political chord: “Be prepared to struggle for the cause of Communism.”

Once Chinese schoolchildren reach 14, they get the chance to trade up into the Communist Youth League and Huang, now 13, must be readying himself for promotion. Already something of a self-publicist, he has been penning a blog with news of his visits to the elderly, lectures to classmates, and donations to good causes. He also showcased his goals in life: to pursue moral discipline, benefit humankind and bring stability to the Chinese nation.

Not even a mention of wanting a new bike for Christmas, WiC notes.

Of course, no one could generate the kind of media coverage that Huang has experienced without a backlash, and reporters were soon homing in on the fact that he had two more stripes than the rules permitted, or simply poking fun at the young boy’s apparent ambition.

Nor could netizens restrain themselves. In one of the kinder images doing the rounds, a photo-shopped “Five-Stripe Boy” shakes hands with President Obama, who has only managed to earn three stripes himself.

Others picked over Huang’s photographic poses, pointing out how his posture seemed to have been modelled on senior Party cadres.

As of last week, Huang’s blog was no longer available, and his parents had asked media to leave him alone. In the best tradition of politicians worldwide, our Young Pioneer was spending more time with his family…

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