In December 2011, Lin Weiping (林卫平), the deputy director of the local health bureau in the southern city of Dongguan, took part in an online discussion on a domestic microblog platform organized by the local government. The microblog discussion was part of a series of chats ostensibly allowing local citizens to ask questions about relevant issues and policies. During the chat session with Lin Weiping, web users asked a series of pointed questions, but Lin seemed to systematically ignore these or offer completely unrelated answers. However, the deputy director responded in great detail to the softball questions asked by one user with the alias “Witty on Dongguan” (东莞才子). Prying by internet users and Chinese media later revealed that the web user “Witty in Dongguan” was in fact Wu Zongcai (吴宗才), the local health bureau’s press relations officer. After the ruse was found out, Wu responded: “I’m a web user too, and I have a right to ask my own questions.” In the above cartoon, posted by artist Cao Yi (曹一) to and run in the official People’s Daily, a government official (presumably Lin Weiping) appears behind an empty computer screen. With his left arm, the official reaches over behind another screen and works a pink hand puppet. The signboard beneath the two computers reads: “XX Health Bureau Microblog Discussion.”

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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