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July 7, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Chinese students angry about naked president

Despite a petition containing the signatures of over 100 Chinese students, Salient editor Tristan Egarr has resisted calls to apologise for a recent magazine cover that depicted a naked Hu Jiantao wrapped in a Chinese flag, pointing out that making fun of political leaders “is an important part of what Salient does.”

On the cover of Salient’s 26 May issue, Hu, President of the People’s Republic of China, is shown apparently wearing only a large flag. The picture was created by imposing Hu’s head on an anonymous torso using digital image editing software Photoshop.

The cover prompted six complaints that were printed in Salient’s Holiday Special issue, published 3 June. “Fuck you stupid Kiwi birdy, you are mother fucker dirtied Chinese National Leader and Flag, you are son of the bitch,” one read.

Another asked Salient staff: “Do you have girl friend [sic], wife and mother? i will collect their photoes [sic] from now, and i will use photoshop to put their head and prostitute’s body together, and post these photo to every special web site and forum, then leave your phone number there.”

Others called for Salient to apologise for what they described as a “disgusting” and “inappropriate” image.

A group of Chinese students are also accused of removing a stack of approximately 50 magazines from the University’s Karori campus. Egarr says he was informed of the action by a staff member at the VUWSA office, who was approached by the students carrying the removed magazines and was instructed to “get rid of” them.

Egarr says he later met with a small group of Chinese students during the mid-year break. The group was led by the president of the Chinese Students’ Association Junfeng Wu, who also acts as the International Officer of the University’s Students’ Association (VUWSA) as William Wu.

The group presented a petition signed by 133 students and staff, most of them Chinese. Witnesses described the incident as a “heated confrontation.”

According to Egarr, the group of students said that they were offended by the timing of the cover, which was published two weeks after the Sichuan earthquake that reportedly killed over 60,000 people in China.

“We spent about an hour talking. They said that they didn’t mind us making fun of Hu Jiantao, but that they were hurt that we were insulting Chinese people so soon after the earthquake,” Egarr said. “But the petition was about Hu Jiantao.”

The petition requests an apology from Salient for “[depicting] the Chinese president Hu Jiantao in an inappropriate manner.” No reference is made to the timing of the cover. “The timing is one point,” Wu said. “Another point is that the national flag represents a country.”

He said he had been personally offended by the cover.

“It was a very bad time with the earthquake and [the cover] made the situation worse… [especially] when the Chinese government is doing well for the people [in the aftermath of the earthquake].”

However, Wu added that he believed students would still have considered the cover “highly offensive” had it been published at a different time.

According to Egarr, the reaction was indicative of the fact that unlike China, a free press operated in New Zealand. “We’re used to it, whereas they may not be.”

While he conceded that there were limits to free speech, he believed that the cover was well within those limits.

Wu, who claimed that he had received complaints from both Chinese and non- Chinese students about the cover, said that cultural differences could not be blamed. “I agree with the right to free speech but you need to consider other people’s feelings,” he said.

“Chinese students [offended by the cover] pay money to support Salient and Salient insults them. They want an apology.”

Egarr pointed out that the magazine had made fun of other political figures in the past, including Helen Clark, George W Bush and John Howard.

“I don’t want to be a dick… [But] we can’t apologise to [the Chinese students] if we haven’t apologised to anyone else [we have made fun of]. It’s important that we make fun of political leaders.”

Tim Wang, a Chinese student who has been living in New Zealand for 15 years, told Salient that many Chinese people considered the president to represent them. “[So] what you do to the president, you do to the Chinese people.”

“The reaction depends on the person… Personally at first I was kind of a little surprised. Some of my friends were offended. In New Zealand you are more used to political satire.”

A non-Chinese student, Huyen Nguyn, said that Chinese people were nationalistic. “If you offend Helen Clark, you don’t offend people in New Zealand.”

She added that Salient is “supposed to be offensive.”

When asked whether the Chinese students intended to take further action over the cover, Wu told Salient: “I can’t say because I just want [Egarr] to apologise.”

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Comments (19)

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  1. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    I totally agree with Tristan on this and I fully support him.

    Whilst we all sympathise with the people of Sichuan province for the harrowing ordeal they have gone through, this article was not about Sichuan. Salient was, and is, fully within its rights to criticise the leadership of any country. Criticism is harmless. It’s also a valuable part of any democratic society.

    As an Australian, I don’t get offended when kiwis criticise the leadership of my country. Hell, I appreciate a good caricature of Johnny Howard as much as the next person (there’s something about his eyebrows that just beg to be made a mockery of). And Kevin Rudd was caught picking his ear and eating it, after all.

    The people of China have my deepest sympathies over the ordeal they have suffered this year, and my admiration for the way they have pulled together to deal with the crisis. But Salient have nothing to apologise for.

    Matt.

  2. Gibbon says:

    I have never met a Chinese person and I thus have no opinions of them… however… I am gradually forming the idea that many of them do not have a sense of humour about themselves.

  3. Mr Smagoo says:

    咒骂您愚笨的猕猴桃。 您玷污了不起的领导。 团结的瓷的明显意志面孔力量!。

  4. bongley says:

    中国人民需要学会镇定下来。 它是仅图片。

  5. Just in case anyone was wondering, Mr Smagoo says “Damned stupid kiwis. You insult our great leadership. It is our unity which gives us strength”.

    Bongley counters that “us Chinese need to learn to respond calmly. It’s only a picture”.

    (Please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong)

  6. Electrum Stardust says:

    Not quite – Smagoo seems to be saying:
    “Curse you stupid MACAQUE PEACH. You defiled great leader. Joined-together PORCELAIN’s obviously resolute face-power.”

  7. Kiwi says:

    Kick all chinese out of NZ. Problem solved.

  8. National Front says:

    Kick all asian out of NZ include second gereration asain and islanders. Problem solved.lol

  9. James Malthus says:

    Kick all whiteys out of NZ. Problem solved. You dirty honkies.

  10. jas says:

    gv d land bak to maori~!!!!!!!!!

  11. I love chocolate. says:

    Some comments prove just how ignorant and idiotic ppl can be. I suggest growing up and thinking before posting cos they’re making themselves look incredibly vacuous.

    It’s a shame this issue couldn’t just be worked out properly. It was pretty stupid to do that cover…Despite the obvious satire present, to do so after such a tragedy only weeks before is pretty poor taste.

    And the ‘get out of the country comments’ GEE good job guys… =)…idiots -_-
    Since the Maoris were the original ppl of nz, why don’t we all just gtfo? Or has that not gone through their non existant brains? Funny how that happens =)

  12. JV says:

    Actually I’ve heard that research suggests the mole people were the actually the original habitants of New Zealand, but they were all eaten by the Maori when they arrived.

  13. Liam Nub says:

    I quite like those chong people

  14. Gohan_Aro_01 says:

    HAH. I once got nekkid with Huge Gin Towel, as we down at the bath house call him.

    A man of fine tastes.

  15. John Campbell says:

    What’s a chunder mile?

  16. Dr No says:

    you learn you kiwi scum birds to must respect the great China. Time will come you will all must grow corn for world’s great hungry champion!

  17. Sando says:

    Wow, talk about thread necromancy.

  18. Kim Chi says:

    You Chinese student must learn the value democracy. In democracy like my truly great Korea, leader can be called to accountant and the free sale of TImberland and other product can continue without propaganda or talking about great wall of china and 5000 year China history. You Chinese people are slave to state still ongoing!

  19. Dr No says:

    Korean fool Kim Chi! 5000 year Chinese history not happen over night! Then was time of CHinese history, now is time of great triumph of strong hungry nation. Korea just only prawn to great lobster of China might!

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