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Officials should keep close contact with the public
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Officials should change their rigid images and keep close contact with the public, says an article in Chongqing Times. Excerpts:

As the Ambassador of "2009 Zhangjiajie International Countryside Music Festival", Zhao Xiaoming, the mayor of Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, appeared in the festival's promotional video in a cartoon image, thus attracting wide public attention.

The singing and dancing cartoon image of government officials is rather rare in China, which seems a subversion of their traditional image. An Internet poll shows that 93 percent of the netizens think it is an innovative way to show that officials can be playful and approachable, which finds favor with the public.

Most people will choose the word "mysterious" to describe the image of government officials, because of the stereotype prevalent in the public mind. Everyone of them appears identical though this is not an accurate representation as they are individuals and cannot all be alike.

The principle that "familiarity breeds contempt" cannot apply to the relationship between officials and the public, because it is essential that people perceive the image of officials as one that is approachable. Distance makes for a gap, which can create obstacles to communication. Sometimes the alienation of the officials from the people is just because of psychological distance. Some officials often hold themselves aloof and sound superior in their speeches thereby making the public feel an aversion for them.

In fact, officials pay a lot of attention to their public image. Many of them want to maintain close contact with the people, but they always do it in a wrong way. When facing the public, they still appear rigid, inaccessible and superior. Zhao Xiaoming earns so much praise merely with his funny cartoon image, which indicates that the public expectation of the desirable image of officials is not hard to fulfil.

(China Daily May 11, 2009)

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