Campy Earnestness Defined: Wen Jiabao Hoops Video

I mentioned yesterday that, as part of China Daily's touching 30th-birthday festivities, it ran some pictures of Premier Wen Jiabao playing basketball with school kids.

Little did I know that a 90-second video of the whole event existed. This truly is incredible, from Wen's outfit to his showoff tricky dribble at time 0:25 to his working the offensive boards to ... well, please see for yourself. Thanks to Damien Ma for pointing this out.

The official English narration conveys the tone (but doesn't say anything about the conducive-to-layups rim height.)

>>Instructed by school teacher Zhang Tao, Wen learnt how to dribble and control the ball.

A successful shot won him a big round of applause from the pupils, the report said.
[I bet!]

Wen said he was "very happy" to join the students, and added that building a strong and healthy body would help them in their studies.

"Only when children are healthy, can the country have a good future. We must keep a healthy body in order to better serve the people," he said.<<

Well put! Nice play by all. And good sportsmanship by Wen Jiabao -- even though he gives every indication of taking this 100% seriously and not as a moment of high campiness potential. (For another time: has there ever been a moment of senior Chinese Communist officials reflecting awareness of the campy or jokey quotient in such events. Probably so, but I can't think of one now.)

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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