After trudging 2.8 miles in the freezing cold, a third-grader walked into his classroom of 16 students on Jan. 9, 2018, with a head full of white frost. His bemused teacher took a photo and posted it online. Little did she expect a heated debate on China’s extreme poverty would ensue, followed by a response from the Chinese regime’s propagandists, who cunningly trivialized the issue in classic communist rhetoric, which effectively buried the former narrative.
Wang Fuman, 8, lives in a simple mud house with his grandmother and older sister in Ludian county in Yunnan Province. His mother “disappeared” one day, and his father is a migrant worker who doesn’t live at home. To get to school, young Wang walks more than an hour, which isn’t pleasant in the winter, especially when one hasn’t got warm clothes. It was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. -9 degrees Celsius) on the Tuesday morning when this picture was taken.
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) January 14, 2018
A highly circulated image of Wang with his hair and eyebrows encrusted in ice hit a sore spot for the Chinese regime, whose high-ranking officials are synonymous with embezzlement, bribery, and corruption.
More than half of China’s population lives in poverty, a fact that the Chinese regime wants to keep under wraps. For example, 1.5 million residents were removed from their now-demolished homes and displaced prior to the 2006 Beijing Olympics—because China wants to paint a false image to foreign visitors, and show the West flashy apartment buildings instead. So, when Wang’s “ice boy” photo went super viral both in China and abroad, China’s demagogues responded in full swing.
No longer is Wang the symbol of rural poverty, for he is now being used as a photo op for the Chinese Communist Party. The 8-year-old was invited to Beijing and hailed a patriotic hero. He was photographed waving the Communist flag and swearing an oath of allegiance to the Communist Party. He was photographed wearing police riot gear and expressed his intention to become a police officer when he grows up.
He most likely hasn’t got a clue that the Chinese police are instructed to carry out Jiang Zemin’s genocidal policy to “eliminate” Falun Gong practitioners—who are a group of peaceful meditators—by jailing them and using them as an organ pool to later be harvested for their organs to fuel China’s lucrative transplant trade.
In treating the boy like a celebrity, not only does the regime get to bolster its own reputation among the populace as “struggling for the people,” just like how ice boy struggles against the freezing conditions of winter to get to school, but the change in focus has effectively trivialized and mitigated debate on China’s crippling poverty.