Time magazine has released its 2011 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and, unsurprisingly, several Chinese names made the grade.
There was no room this year for blogger and professional rally driver Han Han, who scored highly in last year’s popular vote in the ‘Artists’ category. Instead, the 2011 list includes a fashion mogul, an artist, a couple of politicians, a journalist, a tech giant and a Chinese-American author.
It would be interesting to see if controversial artist and activist Ai Weiwei would have made it onto the list had it not been for his detention this month as he tried to catch a flight at Beijing airport. Regardless, former US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is right to describe Ai in his write-up as ‘a visionary any nation should be proud to count among its creative class.’
On the political front are two names that are bound to feature in talk of China’s future—presidential heir apparent Xi Jinping and Defence Minister Liang Guanglie. I’ve written before about Xi after he received a major boost to his prospects of succeeding Hu Jintao as president after being appointed vice chairman of the Central Military Commission at October’s Communist Party Central Commission plenary session. But I confess I haven’t given as much prominence to Liang, despite China’s numerous military surprises over the past year.
As Bill Powell notes, under Liang, ‘the Chinese military has developed its first aircraft carrier, tested a stealth fighter and made significant strides in both cyber- and space warfare. If China does become a legitimate military rival to the US in the Pacific, as many defence planners believe is inevitable, Liang—perhaps more than anyone else—will have helped make that possible.’
My fellow China Power blogger Jiang will likely be wincing at the inclusion of Chinese-American author Amy Chua, who made waves earlier this year with her Wall Street Journal op-ed ‘Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.’ An arguably more deserving inclusion is journalist Hu Shuli, who founded Beijing-based magazine Caijing. The Time write-up on her notes: ‘Caijing shook up China's media landscape with courageous investigative pieces on corruption and fraud. After a dispute with her publisher, Hu left the magazine in 2009 and set up Caixin Century, now a paragon of reporting brilliance in China.’
Rounding off the list of Chinese included in the top 100 are Charles Chao and Hung Huang. Hung ‘runs a fashion magazine called iLook, owns a store featuring Chinese designers and recently became the director of the first design museum in China,’ Time notes. It adds: ‘What makes Hung unique is that she understands America, its pragmatism and practices, yet she remains a true Chinese patriot. She works hard to bring her country's culture into the 21st century.’
Chao, meanwhile, is president and CEO of media giant SINA Corporation. As Time notes, Chao backed the company's microblog service despite the failures of earlier players. ‘The result, Sina Weibo, is a high-powered service that Chao, 45, calls a mashup of Twitter and Facebook,’ it says. ‘Weibo's photo and video features, plus the natural conciseness of the Chinese language, make it wildly popular in China…Weibo's ranks are filled with celebrities and athletes, scholars and artists and millions of regular folks from across the Chinese-speaking world. It is censored, Chao acknowledges, but it is also one of the freest online platforms in China.’