Changing China

Giant on the move

Just who is “Second Brother on the Right”?

August 12, 2008

Second brother on the planeHis picture is all over Chinese Web sites and media. He has multiple proposals of marriage. And he became an overnight nationalist hero. But just who is China’s anonymous “Second Brother on the Right”?

The young man with classic good looks guarded the Olympic flame during its protest-ridden passage round the world. His prominent position (always standing second to the right of the flame) wrestling demonstrators and standing proudly next to the torch has brought him fame across China. 

“He is so hot and he is the pride of China! What more could a girl want?” wrote one female fan.

Second Brother’s popularity has tapped into two cultural under-currents in China — anger among many that foreign protests, mainly in favour of Tibetan independence, have tarnished their Olympics; and weariness with quickly-manufactured domestic pop and TV stars.

By contrast, Second Brother’s embodiment of classic values is compared by fans to Lei Feng, an idolised soldier of the Mao Zedong era. Chinese guess Second Brother must be a policeman or soldier, but his real identity is a closely-guarded secret.

That’s a shame for those queuing up to offer him homage and gifts, plus his many would-be wives.

PHOTO: A Beijing Olympic torch relay guard known as “Second Brother on the Right” poses for a photo on an airplane from Sanya to Beijing, May 4, 2008. Picture taken May 4, 2008. REUTERS/China Daily


Classic communist values on the rise.

How long will it be before China is flexing its muscles on the world stage? Or will it continue to work behind the lines as in Darfur, Myanmar and N Korea?

A smile hides better than a frown.

Posted by Neal | Report as abusive

There’s a rise in nationalism in China, certainly. At the same time, as a westerner who has lived and worked in China, I’d point out that among the growing ranks of college-educated Chinese, the nationalism is quite different from the old Communist pride. Chinese now have a great sense of pride in what they, themselves, have accomplished as a nation, and as individuals, but many of them, at least in the comfort (and safety) of their own homes, are openly critical of the central government, and see much of its propaganda for what it is.

All nations thrive on a strong nationalistic spirit, so we in the west ought to be wary of associating the Chinese rise in nationalism with a growing acceptance of the government per-se. If anything, the CCCP right now fears their own people more than the West fears them.

Posted by da6d | Report as abusive

It’s just typical of the West’s fear of a growing power and influence if it’s not a white country. Answer me this – how many wars, invasions, conquests, slaveries and genocides have been commited by countries ran by white people as opposed to “other” races?

The US alone has been involved in a number of wars and invasions since the start of the 1900s.

I keep hearing about Tibet and I don’t think it’s even remotely close to what has happeend in Iraq.


In China kills those who speaking favourably about freedom, human rights and democracy.

In Euro/western countries you’ll get punished for destroying freedom, human rights and democracy.

Big difference there. Can’t compare China and West. That’s why millions of Chinese have migrated to the west, but you never see the opposite.

Posted by Zhang | Report as abusive

Ken, well said. Few people see the irony of criticizing China for human rights violations when we have yet to answer to the disaster of Iraq, Guantanemo Bay, Hurricane Katrina, to name recent administrative negligence of human rights. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that African Americans were denied their rights as citizens of our nation, despite being freed from slavery nearly a century ago. It doesn’t mean that institutionalized racism has disappeared completely. But, of course, that’s not the story one wants to spin when standing on his/her moral platform looking down on others.

Posted by LD | Report as abusive

Bravo, LD! A great synopsis! So well done I have nothing more to add.

Posted by Michel Fulano | Report as abusive

This is funny:

“.. Chinese guess Second Brother must be a policeman or soldier, but his real identity is a closely-guarded secret.

That’s a shame for those queuing up to offer him homage and gifts, plus his many would-be wives.”

More like it’s a shame for lazy journalists, queuing to earn cash from writing a glib article about would-be personalities.

Only to then dig up dirt and scandals, see him thoroughly undone, while looking for the next story.

Posted by tobie | Report as abusive

Russia is a white country, and people are afraid of them, too. We shouldn’t underestimate the fear of unemployment and poverty.

Posted by m | Report as abusive

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