Cartoon of China President Xi Jinping in state-run media breaks taboo

The cartoon-style infographic, carried by qianlong.com, a news portal administered by the publicity department of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), shows China President Xi Jinping's busy schedule which includes m
The cartoon-style infographic, carried by qianlong.com, a news portal administered by the publicity department of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), shows China President Xi Jinping's busy schedule which includes meetings, visits, study trips and other activities. A cartoon depiction of Mr Xi Jinping, the first such image of the Chinese president carried by a state-run media outlet, has triggered much discussion of the new attitude towards publicising China's top leadership. -- PHOTO: QIANLONG.COM
The cartoon-style infographic, carried by qianlong.com, a news portal administered by the publicity department of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), lists China President Xi Jinping's hobbies such as reading, socce
The cartoon-style infographic, carried by qianlong.com, a news portal administered by the publicity department of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), lists China President Xi Jinping's hobbies such as reading, soccer, swimming and martial arts.  A cartoon depiction of Mr Xi Jinping, the first such image of the Chinese president carried by a state-run media outlet, has triggered much discussion of the new attitude towards publicising China's top leadership. -- PHOTO: QIANLONG.COM

BEIJING - A cartoon depiction of Mr Xi Jinping, the first such image of the Chinese president carried by a state-run media outlet, has triggered much discussion of the new attitude towards publicising China's top leadership.

The cartoon-style infographic, carried by qianlong.com, a news portal administered by the publicity department of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), summed up Mr Xi's major steps since he took office as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in November 2012, Global Times reported.

The infographic read that Mr Xi has spent 39 days doing 12 inspections in 11 provincial regions, and spent another 39 days visiting 14 countries on five continents.

The infographic also listed Mr Xi's hobbies such as reading, soccer, swimming and martial arts using pictograms.

This marks the first time state-run media has published any type of cartoon image of Mr Xi. In October last year, a video titled "The makings of a Chinese leader" went viral online via popular video website Youku, in which China's top leadership was presented in animation.

Observers view the infographic as a further step on from the video to demonstrate the renewed and modern political publicity concept of China's leadership. It values the building of a leader's personal image and public interaction in plain but striking ways.

Although common in other countries, it is extremely rare to see a cartoon of senior Chinese leaders, as the art form is considered to mainly bear a critical or satirical function to reveal social problems, Global Times said.

Although without clear rules, Chinese media normally would not print cartoon images of officials above the ministerial level, a senior editor of the Beijing-based Cartoon Weekly told the Global Times.

He noted that the atmosphere has become more open in recent years, not only because officials want to get closer to people, but it also indicates that the public has a deeper understanding of cartoons.

"A good cartoon can tell a story or even beautify the subject; it has a much wider function than merely being satirical or amusing, as long as it shows the essence of the subject," he said.

Mr Xi has attracted much praise for being "a man of the people" after a surprise visit to a Beijing bun restaurant in December last year when he sat and ate with regular diners.