By XI MEITI
Western Media Correspondent
SHANGHAI (China Daily Show) – The Shaun Rein spinbot has been cancelled due to “complications,” a source in the Chinese government said yesterday.
A one-line statement on Xinhua, the official news agency, stated simply that the Rein has been “discontinued” and will be phased out over a five-month period. But others suggest the reasons may be more complicated.
Unknown abroad, the Rein is nevertheless familiar in Chinese media circles as a popular media troll. Its columns, which invariably regurgitate the government line in the face of overwhelming evidence, are produced using WuMao 2.0 – state software that most observers believe is hopelessly out of date.
“The Rein has served the Party well but modern times call for a modern approach,” said a WuMao spokesman who refused to give his name. “Our internal studies showed no one ever actually listened to anything the Rein had to say, anyway.”
Insiders point to more public signs of cognitive dissonance, however.
According to some reports, the Rein was briefly detained last month after being found “naked and masturbating” at 3am on the Shanghai Bund. Witnesses report the Rein was gesticulating wildly, while clutching a tattered copy of an infamous 2009 Pew research poll, which claimed 86 of Chinese are “happy with the government.”
“The cops had to gently prise it from its fingers,” said one eyewitness. “It was covered with crazy-ass doodles but the Rein just wouldn’t let it go.”
Sources close to the Rein explained that the bizarre breakdown was brought on by stress and an impending sense that it was being “judged by God.” But the Chinese government is also said to be increasingly displeased by the Rein’s descriptions of itself as a marketing guru.
The Rein’s China Market Research Group (CMR) describes itself as the “world’s leading strategic market intelligence firm.” But when this reporter visited its Shanghai offices, we found only months-old newspapers and an abandoned desktop terminal, left open to a game of spider solitaire. A migrant worker selling bicycle parts nearby claimed to currently be CMR’s chief analyst.
Sources in Beijing added that the Rein’s marketing boasts were embarrassing, even for them. “The Rein was only supposed to make absurd claims about the Party – not its career,” fumed one strategist.
Not everyone is pleased to see the ageing spinbot go, however.
“It’s a sad day, in some ways,” said Grady Einstein, a writer for the anti-Chinese US golfing magazine Fores. “Who could forget the Rein’s hopeless attack on Christian Bale? Its description of the Great Leap Forward as a “mass diet”? Its defence of Tiananmen as a vital training exercise?
“It’s going to be very hard for the Party to replace the Rein with something equally misguided. Thankfully, that task could not be in better hands.”
Follow breaking China news at @chinadailyshow on Twitter