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Sunday, August 21, 2005

No Sex, Please, We're Repressed



Floozie or role model, attention monger or free spirit? For months, China has been debating what to make of its latest internet-born star, a young woman known nationwide as Furong Jiejie, aka Sister Furong.

She is seen as a pioneer pushing the boundaries of traditional media controls but in the process has become a target of government censors in the tightly controlled country.

Sister Furong started the craze by posting pictures of herself -- draped back-down over a stone ball, bent at the knees with her chest thrust out suggestively and in other poses -- on internet bulletin boards of two top Beijing universities to which she had tried but failed to gain entrance.

The shots, and accompanying captions and passages she wrote proclaiming her own beauty and talent, became a campus sensation.

But when her cult status began to sweep the whole country, Beijing stepped in.

"They've cracked down on me," Sister Furong, a 28-year-old girl next door whose real name is Shi Hengxia, told Reuters.

In late July, authorities told the country's top blog host to move Furong-related content to low-profile parts of the site. Her pictures can still be found online, but links to them and chatrooms about her have disappeared from the front pages of major web portals.

And after blanket coverage earlier this year, newspapers, magazines and television have recently given almost no time to Sister Furong, who originally came from a rural area of central Shaanxi province.

"When I first heard about it I was really disappointed," she said. "My friends all said the government should be encouraging a positive, helpful girl like me," said Sister Furong, whose nickname means Hibiscus.


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