With China’s new slate of top leaders finally unveiled, Web users quickly took to Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, to share their impressions. While many were confined to speculating about whether new leader Xi Jinping and his colleagues would pursue the road toward reform, others attempted something a bit more, er, scientific: The horoscope.
Less than an hour after the seven-man membership of China’s new Politburo Standing Committee crossed the wire, @沙特买买提 posted the table below, adding, “Who said leaders’ horoscopes don’t matter? Check this out!” Interestingly, according to this table, four out of the top seven are Cancers. In fact, Xi Jinping appears to be a Gemini, but the perception of Xi as a “crab” still created a buzz in China’s blogosphere. Within 12 hours, the horoscope table (erroneous or not) had attracted over 3,800 comments and was reposted a whopping 36,000-plus times.
Here’s an abbreviated version in English:
|Xi Jinping||June, 1953||Cancer|
|Li Keqiang||July, 1955||Cancer|
|Zhang Dejiang||November, 1946||Scorpio|
|Yu Zhengsheng||April, 1945||Taurus|
|Liu Yunshan||July, 1947||Cancer|
|Wang Qishan||July, 1948||Cancer|
|Zhang Gaoli||November, 1946||Scorpio|
Among younger Chinese, especially those fond of Weibo, astrological analysis has long being a hot topic. Taureans are seen as conservative, favoring stability, and eschewing drama of any kind. Scorpios are seen as deeply guarded, sophisticated and mysterious. And a Cancer male, the dominant sign of China’s new top seven, is generally viewed as a mild, low-profile homebody that exhibits loyalty, sensitivity and caution. However, they are not usually associated with leadership, ambitions and toughness, all of which are supposed to be a must for Chinese leaders.
Weibo users who happened to be Cancers seemed quite tickled by the rise of their astrological counterparts. As @梦貘怪小孩 commented: “It seems that I have a promising future! Got to repost this!” @美娟_Alico wrote, “OK… now to start accepting compliments.” @不见星空 decided to take a strategic tack: “I will have a cancer baby and look forward to the 28th [National People’s Congress, not scheduled for another 50 years].” @3cPlay_Ricky opined: “It seems that I will be pampering my Cancer friends.”
Some commentators attempted to take their astrological analyses one level deeper, divining cause for hope. Noting the proliferation of Scorpios and Cancers, @ShelleyChoo commented: “Scorpio and Cancer are the best match! They all belong to the Water Signs in Astrology.”
Some focused on Xi, whose short introductory speech as China’s new leader found favor online. @猫豆儿88 said: “Cancer [means] a nice, sentimental, warm-hearted caring man…Xi is straightforward and down to earth; hope we can have a better boss after the transition.” @木偶班车 added: “Those are the most practical and considerate horoscopes, very suitable for society.” It may dismay these commenters to know that Xi is likely a gemini, a sign perceived as talkative, outgoing, and possessing a dual personality.
While unreliable as a predictive metric, Chinese web users’ horoscope gossip comes from complex and deep roots. Many Chinese long to see the more human side of their leaders. This is particularly true in the case of Xi Jinping, a man who has provided encouraging early glimpses of human warmth after ten years of the almost willfully stilted President Hu Jintao. Moreover, without a direct line of communication with their leaders, Chinese citizens have long turned to searching for clues by looking, for example, to the names of their leaders or to whether recent natural phenomena portend propitious things. With China’s top leaders seemingly so far away, it’s small wonder that its citizens will look to any point that might connect their powerful and mysterious leaders with their own lives–even if that point is a star in the heavens.