Over the past year, Wen was the symbolic caring hand of the government after the Sichuan earthquake, he enjoyed unprecedented Facebook popularity, and he kept his cool when confronted by a copycat shoe tosser at Cambridge University in England.
This past weekend's candid online chat with Chinese citizens will surely add to the legend that is Wen Jiabao.
From Xinhua News Services:
This must be the Chinese equivalent of "The Youtube Debates" that America had in the run-up to last year's presidential election.
BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao jumped in his first ever online chat on Saturday afternoon, facing questions from nearly 300,000 netizens and mobile phone users ranging from unemployment, wealth gap, social justice to democracy.
"I don't expect myself to answer every question well, but I am here with a sincere heart and speak honestly," Wen said during the two-hour-long chat jointly run by the central government web site www.gov.cn and the Xinhua News Agency web site www.xinhuanet.com.
The chat, second of its kind for a high-ranking Chinese official, came several days before the Premier is to deliver his annual work report at a meeting of the national legislature on March 5.
President Hu Jintao had a brief Q&A with netizens at the web site of People's Daily last June.
It seems Wen, who surfs the Internet almost every day and sometimes spends as long as one hour on the Internet, is aware of the toughness of the chat. He started the chat speaking of the approximately half million questions directed to him on local Internet forums, lately opened for the public to utter their advice ahead of the legislature meeting.
"I am deeply aware of the raft of issues that need to be addressed in a country as vast as China and I am deeply aware of the difficulty and heavy responsibility a Chinese Premier has to face," he said.Read On
I didn't witness the chat first-hand and just know what went on from the write-up on the link I provided. It doesn't sound as if anything ground-shattering was discussed though: the economic crisis is serious, migrants are hurting (and "thanks" for being so resilient!), and it turns out that Wen's didn't even see that shoe lobbed at him. But as he says:
"I didn't know indeed what has come to me. But I have a conviction even it was a dangerous article, I wouldn't move a bit because the first thing that came cross my mind was to safeguard the national dignity," he said.So there you go; even if Wen had seen the shoe coming, he wouldn't have pulled one of these:
Personally, I was impressed with President Bush's lightning quick reaction. But Wen's unwavering commitment to "national dignity" is pretty dang impressive as well.