HONG KONG — Xi Jinping was elected president of China on Thursday with 99.86 percent of the vote. Delegates at the annual meeting of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, pick the president, and only one person voted against him, the Wall Street Journal reported.
That begs the question: Who’s the lone wolf who cast the “no” vote?
Citizens on Chinese social media were immediately consumed with speculation, so much so that the word “no vote” was censored by the authorities on sites like Sina Weibo, the South China Morning Post reported.
GlobalPost senior correspondent Benjamin Carlson was monitoring the Chinese internet from Hong Kong on Friday.
"The hunt is on for the one 'no' vote against Xi's highly choreographed and pre-ordained 'election' yesterday," Carlson reported:
On Weibo, everybody's wondering whether a.) the person will be punished horribly, as happened to the one "nay" vote against Mao Zedong. Or b.), whether this is a good sign for democracy that at least SOMEone voted his or her conscience, and didn't follow orders. There's also theory c.) which is that Xi voted against himself as a show of humility.
By certain historical accounts, Zhang Dongsun, the CPPCC delegate believed to have cast the single “no” vote against Mao Zedong becoming head of China’s communist government in 1949, paid a heavy price for his ballot, the South China Morning Post reported.
He was arrested at age 82, two years into the Cultural Revolution, and later died in Beijing's Qincheng prison, according to the South China Morning Post.
One microblogger guessed the “no” voter was Li Yuanchao, the new vice president, who was shut out of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee last October, the Wall Street Journal reported. Others thought it could be a politician who misses the lavish banquets and airport greeting ceremonies that Xi has banned in an effort to improve the Communist party’s image.
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It’s possible that the one “no” vote was tacitly arranged by the Communist party, the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
The production of slightly blemished vote tallies serves as a small way for the party to present the selection of new leaders as the product of “intraparty democracy,” rather than as a process dependent on the back-room horse trading among current and retired officials.
But many netizens maintain the one dissenting vote was cast by Xi himself.
“He definitely was the one who voted against himself,” one Weibo user wrote. “It’s a sign of his genuine humility.”
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Benjamin Carlson contributed to this report from Hong Kong.