From Mao to Yao

Washington Post:

From Mao to Yao, China has come a long way, and not everybody here is happy about it.

As a national controversy swelled over what it means to be a worker in the China of 2005, the Communist government announced Thursday that Yao Ming, the 7-foot-6-inch center for the Houston Rockets from Shanghai, has been honored with the title of "vanguard worker" -- even though he is a millionaire living in Texas who makes his living playing basketball.

The tribute was part of a May Day exercise in which the party labor union and government bestow medals every five years on a number of people they consider to be selfless, exemplary Chinese workers. Since the revolutionary days of Mao Zedong, the title has been given to the likes of blue-collar laborers on high-output production lines or country schoolteachers bringing literacy and correct socialist ideology to remote villages.

The big difference between Mao and Yao, besides height, is that Mao killed millions of people and Yao makes millions of dollars playing sports. Yao is actually a nice humble guy who would make a great diplomat. In that regard he certainly puts a better face on China than its current leaders who bluster about Tiawan and Japan and do nothing about the nutty Norks next door.

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