After the new Party leadership was sworn in during the 18th Party Congress, the Chinese government has been actively cultivating an image that is warmer and friendlier than generations past, including distributing images of leaders with their families and personal profiles of Xi Jinping and others. As China Media Project points out, this effort mirrors that fairy tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes in reverse:
In China, Andersen’s story (long familiar to Chinese) is now being re-enacted inside out. The emperors, the top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, are party to the swindle. And the audacious act of deception is to convince the townsfolk that despite all outward appearances, Party leaders are not mantled with wealth and privilege — they are, in fact, naked.
Since he became General Secretary in November, Xi Jinping has made an extreme public relations makeover the centerpiece of his game plan. He wants to convince Chinese that the CCP’s fifth generation of leaders is down-to-earth, spurns ostentation, that it is engaged with the pocketbook concerns of the general population — but most of all that it is clean.
Corruption is a major, life-and-death issue for China’s ruling Party, and this is not the time for the Party be seen, like the emperor in Anderson’s story, wearing “the finest silk and the purest gold thread.”
Of course, the term “naked officials” has another meaning which brings to mind exactly the wealth and privilege that the leaders are trying to publicly disown.