June 17, 2008, 3:32 PM — A young woman from earthquake-stricken Sichuan province hopes to draw attention to the area and inspire people to donate -- although her online photos seem to be giving rise to thoughts of a different kind.
Known only as "Xiaoyun," or "Little Cloud" in Mandarin, she has posted as many as 100 photos of herself in various poses ranging from clothed to in her underwear to seemingly naked.
However, she claims her motivation is not intended to publicize herself, but to keep eyes focused on her native province. "I am not from Shanghai, I'm from Sichuan, my hometown was hit by the recent earthquake. I have seen people from all over the country help Sichuan, and I am really happy. I hope everyone can continue donating for Sichuan, so I am posting some photos to encourage contributions."
Chinese bulletin board users have had mixed reactions to the photos. "What is with these post-90 girls, why don't they know anything about Marxist theory and work ethic? What do they hope to achieve taking everything off?" wrote one poster known as "First Light on South Street." "Post-90 girls" refers to young women born after 1990 who are often stereotyped for being materialistic and lacking morals.
"This just gets more and more crazy. I don't understand it," said a poster known as "pthxhy2008."
In May, police detained Gao Qianhui, a 21-year-old woman from Liaoning province, for making an online video of herself complaining about the lack of regular television programming during a three-day national mourning period. The mourning period commemorated the nearly 70,000 victims of the May 12 earthquake.
Xiaoyun is not the first person, in China or elsewhere, to use the Internet as a vehicle for self-promotion. In 2005, Shi Hengxia, better known as her online persona "Sister Lotus" ("Furong Jiejie" in Mandarin), achieved national notoriety for her blog posts and attempts at alluring photos. Chinese government regulators moved against her in 2006, keeping her off state-run television and asking Internet portals to keep her off of prominent positions on their sites.
One observer dismissed the woman's altruistic claims, saying she is just the latest person to be elevated to an Internet celebrity by posting racy photos of herself. But "the difference is perhaps that a lot more people in China seem to care," said Jeremy Goldkorn, editor of English-language media blog Danwei.org.