Wednesday, April 18

Gu Kailai is no Jackie Kennedy

This is from a couple of weeks ago, but I only now just noticed the dubious contention that Gu Kailai 谷開來was known by the Chinese as "China's Jackie Kennedy".
It seems to have first surfaced here:
The wife of sacked Communist Party official Bo Xilai made quite an impression when she showed up in Mobile, Ala., 15 years ago with her young son in tow. Denver lawyer Ed Byrne, whom she had hired to represent Chinese companies embroiled in a legal mess in U.S. federal court, was struck by her brains, charm and beauty. Gu Kailai, he says, seemed like the "Jackie Kennedy of China."
and then been embellished here:
Mr Byrne...worked with Ms Gu - whom he knew by the name of Horus Kai - on a number of other cases, meeting her in both the US and Dalian.

He also met her husband and was an "honoured" guest at lunches and dinners.

"People likened her and her husband to the Jack and Jackie Kennedy of China. They were the modern liberal element there."
I never understood the adulation for Jackie Kennedy, but this is ridiculous. Even if like Ed Byrne the Chinese were smitten with Gu Kailai's supposed glamour, few of them are likely to have even heard of Jackie Kennedy (or Jacqueline Kennedy or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis). And certainly to have been impressed by the Kennedy glamour, one would have to have been around in the 1960's, but at that time the Chinese weren't able to access foreign news. I'm afraid this tells us more about Ed Byrne than it does about Gu Kailai's image. (Also, he has a curious idea of what "liberal" means.)

Worse, the fact that the WSJ, the BBC, CNN and others have picked up this meme reveals a lot about lazy reporters.

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