"With the overproduction of steel and iron right now,
still?" asked Weibo user hugodatouwen,
who found the news hard to believe.
"Instead of approving a couple of teaching programs in
mountain villages or water conservation programs, you are approving a steel and
iron plan," renjianxianxiang
fumed. "While asking us poor people to donate to charity, you spent billions
with a wave of pen!"
Other Weibo users, apparently locals from Mayor Wang's area,
worried that they might never see the blue ocean or clear sky again. "Once the
beautiful coastal city Zhanjiang is introduced to the highly polluting steel
industry, it will definitely not be a decision that common citizens will
celebrate," Miss Noble
lamented. "Enjoy Zhanjiang while you can!"
The photo and backlash have underscored some of the economic
challenges the country faces, as the newest data reveals a
significant slowdown of the long-robust GDP growth, especially in major
sectors such as retail and construction. The low level of consumer confidence,
combined with restrictive real-estate purchasing policies meant to force air
out of the nation's housing bubble, have sent housing prices plunging in major
cities, greatly reducing China's voracious appetite for construction materials
such as iron ore and copper. Environmental
perils have also taken their toll, further limiting the country's ability
to grow. Despite all this, the pressure on local officials to keep up economic
growth is still, clearly, enormous.
But perhaps instead of pressure, some netizens point out on
Weibo, local officials see prize.
"70 billion is like a gold mountain. No wonder he lost
control," duoduodiai wrote
about the Zhanjiang mayor.
"Now he is finally going to get promoted," Weibo user critical spirit prophesied.
"From this moment, his land will be burning with labor and roaring with
machines, all lively and vibrant. And even better if he gets to demolish some
old residences and build new plants. That's doubling the growth of GDP!"
For local residents like Peter_huanghuangxiangyaogelidaren,
it can be tougher to hold a light-hearted tone. "All these years, one by one
you have come and gone," she wrote of the succession of mayors of Zhanjiang.
"The bridges are up, your wallets are full, and you rise in rank. Now you start
to make iron and steel at my front door, boosting your career but sacrificing
In what was perhaps an effort to address as well as channel
the overwhelming condemnation on Chinese social media over the mayor's photo,
Xinhua, China's official news agency published a finger-wagging editorial
on the event:
"A government should not govern by winning approval from
higher levels, or be driven purely by the impulse to make political
achievement," it read. "Instead of kissing the document, it should listen to