China's social media censors are cracking down on discussion about the mysterious identity behind the lone vote cast against communist leader Xi Jinping‘s formal appointment as president.
In a largely ceremonial vote, Xi was selected as expected as China's president with 2,955 votes in favor and three abstentions on March 14, 2013 during the 12th National People's Congress.
But one vote of dissent was counted among the tally, and the identity of the deputy who cast the vote was not released.
Many immediately took to popular Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo to wonder who the lone opposing voice could be, but Weibo censors soon scrubbed the site of many of the comments involving the “vote of dissent” and added the term to its long list of banned words.
State media praised Xi as the president with the most votes since Mao Zedong‘s time. On Weibo, ifeng news [zh] circulated on Weibo a diagram of voting results from past presidents to compare: Jiang Zeming had 35 votes of dissent while outgoing President Hu Jintao had three.
One Weibo user “Zeng Langbo” commented [zh] sarcastically:
Looks like China is becoming more democratic.
News analyst “Laoxu Shiping” wrote [zh]:
Xi's election is not news, the large number of winning votes is not news, but the one vote of dissent and who cast this vote is news.
Famous scholar and writer Wu Jiaxiang continued the point [zh]:
The vote of dissent is not news, but being able to publish it is.
Maybe it's Xi himself? We heard that during the 8th National People's Congress, there was only one vote of dissent, which shocked some special departments, then they found out that Mao himself cast the vote!
Some other users also speculated that the vote of dissent was arranged deliberately to give the illusion of debate. “yjhjerry” wrote [zh]:
I suspect that was intentional. Imperialists often say that we manipulate elections, so why not make it more real by showing a couple of votes of dissent? It shows that we allow different voices.
Another user “MC-Mark_Flghter” imagined [zh] that someone perhaps pressed the wrote voting button.
Caixu wrote [zh] that the identity behind the opposing vote wasn't important:
It's meaningless to discuss who cast the vote of dissent, whether the vote of dissent is accepted and can be talked about is worth discussing.