Newspaper editor defends publication of topless Xi Jinping pictures

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By GOU ZAIDUI
Media Correspondent

The rugged pictures covered pages 1-42 of the normally staid People’s Daily

BEIJING (China Daily Show) – A top Chinese editor has defended his newspaper’s controversial decision to publish topless photos of Xi Jinping, arguing, “I was ordered to.”

The crystal-clear images, showing a bare-breasted Xi in a number of poses – including sitting astride a black stallion, clutching an ivory hunting horn –were taken earlier this morning from an digital SLR camera five feet away, and leaked to the People’s Daily. 

After a five-minute telephone conversation with Xi, the newspaper agreed to publish them immediately.

“We considered the news value,” said Ho Ximin, editor of the People’s Daily gossip section, “and received the urgent directive to print them at once.”

The pap snaps, reproduced in startlingly pinprick-detail across all 42 pages of the party mouthpiece, depict 59-year-old Xi – who is expected to replace Hu Jintao as China’s President in October –  as “very much the high-resolution picture of strident, masculine health,” complete with “gleaming pectorals, strong teeth and a glossy head of hair,” the newspaper reported.

The flattering pictures appear following a long, unexplained absence from public appearances by Xi in September, during which he was dogged by rumors of ill health.

Explaining his tough decision to publish the images, Ho said, “It was in the guidance of public interest,” adding, “I had absolutely no choice.”

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