At the height of Mao Tse-tung's push to make China an industrial giant, the model Communist worker was someone like the famed Iron Man Wang, an illiterate peasant so dedicated to building the nation that he once leaped into a construction pit to mix cement with his own body.Brilliant! Why don’t we honor capitalist heroes in this country? (BTW, I’m aware that Yao Ming is a center, not a point guard. But I couldn’t think of a good play on words involving centers.)
Now, in a land of cellphones, high-tech workers and instant millionaires, photos of Iron Man Wang are literally museum pieces.
The new model worker stands 7 foot 6, wears baggy shorts to work and wields a deft hook shot. Instead of construction pits, he leaps into seas of autograph seekers and a custom-fitted BMW 745 — the one with the back seat removed.
What's more, he doesn't even work in China.
Take a bow, Yao Ming.
The ruling Communist Party on Wednesday named the Houston Rockets' center a model worker for this year's May Day celebration. The list of nominees, which once honored hard-working factory employees and paraded them before the masses as inspiration, now celebrates the NBA star, the chief executive of a software company and the chairman of an investment firm. [emphasis added]
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Posted by Glen Whitman at 3:03 PM
Since the reign of Mao Tse Tung, the Chinese government has honored “model workers” as part of the country’s May Day celebration. In true communist style, the winners have usually been faceless factory or farm workers. But one of this year’s winners is… Yao Ming, professional basketball player.