On Friday, during a summit with African leaders in Johannesburg, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged 60 billion dollars of development funding for the continent over the next three years. News of this astonishing generosity — for so it was portrayed in China’s state media — made the rounds online the very same day that the president’s African tour was covered with notable Xi Jinping monomania in the official People’s Daily newspaper.
With China’s senior leadership, wound tightly around Xi Jinping, sending a clear message that “improper discussion” of central Party policies will not be tolerated, and with a pall of silence hanging over the domestic media, criticising the gift to Africa is probably ill-advised.

Xi in Africa
Chinese President Xi Jinping poses with leaders at the China-Africa Summit in Johannesburg on December 4, 2015.
But a piece circulating online and across social media today manages, with a wry artfulness that makes it a must-share, to tease out several thorny questions surrounding Xi Jinping’s “throwing around of money” while in Africa.
The piece is apparently the latest instalment of “Shiguang Talks Straight” (世光直言), an online column by a writer identified as Yu Shiguang (余世光) listed in some sources as being from the city of Ezhou in Hubei province. (There is an archive of the author’s other writings here at Tianya, assuming they are one and the same.)
Yu Shiguang’s humorous piece manages to touch, with pretended vacuousness, on an astonishing array of issues, from rule-of-law and representative government, to domestic poverty, corruption and, finally, media control.

Shiguang Talks Straight (12): General Secretary Xi, what does it mean when you go overseas and throw money around?
Yu Shiguang / December 6, 2015

General Secretary Xi, being poor myself, I cannot for the life of me understand why it is you scatter money around every time you go on an overseas visit. Why is that?
Is it because a nation, in order to improve its international standing, must toss money around? If that’s the case, then I think it’s just as well if you don’t use money to buy international standing.
Are there leaders of other countries that go around tossing money this way when they’re overseas? I really don’t know.
When you toss money people’s way, what good does that do us here in China? I’m a lowly person, so please don’t blame me for being so crass.
Is it that our country just has too much money, and if we don’t toss money away other people won’t know Chinese people actually have money? That seems an unnecessary expense, like punching your own face to look fatter, considering there are so many poor people like me in China.
This money you’re throwing around, is that your own personal money, or is it the people’s money? I’m afraid we really should make clear whose money this is!
If it’s not your personal money, then I believe the matter of tossing money around should go through the National People’s Congress, even if this is just a formality. I mean, the National People’s Congress represents the people, so that way at least there’s some deference to the law.
If you don’t take this through the National People’s Congress, and if you don’t go through legal procedures, then you are personally tossing around the people’s money, and isn’t that corruption in disguise?
Ordinary people really can’t get their heads around this tossing money around thing. Ordinary Chinese are so poor. Could you please explain this to us?
General Secretary Xi, this throwing around of money, it’s really quite an unpleasant thing to witness. It really inspires envy among us ordinary people who don’t know our manners. It makes us itch to steal! How are we to understand such a thing? General Secretary Xi, could you maybe just listen to this one piece of advice: Next time you go overseas and toss money around, could you please make sure the media don’t blow their horns about it quite so indiscriminately?


David Bandurski

CMP Director

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