Censored: The 9-year-old boy who told China’s President to lose weight

A letter from a nine-year-old boy to the Chinese President advising him to “lose some weight” has been censored in China. The note was not sent directly to Xi Jinping, but posted online by the grade four pupil’s father who initially found it amusing. His son, Niu Ziru, used a popular nickname to address the President roughly translated as “Uncle Xi”. He wrote: “Xi Dada, you could lose some weight. [You] don’t have to look as slim as Obama. It’s all right to look like Putin.” The boy also suggested the country should plan a mission to Mars.

It was weekend homework, for his Chinese assignment. A letter [written] to anyone or anything. He is a good student. At our school, students are welcomed to speak up… so they have crazy ideas like this.

Teacher Eileen Wang

The letter was written as part of homework before it went viral on the internet after it was posted by his dad. But it was later pulled from major news websites by censors. Direct references to the boy and the letter have also been removed from social media. The boy’s parents and his school in Zhengzhou did not expect his letter would receive so much attention. Key words that link to sensitive political issues are routinely blocked, with the names of key figures in the Communist Party power structure under particularly close scrutiny.