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Question marks raised over He Kexin’s age

Filed by Jack Yan/August 22, 2008/10.48

[Cross-posted] You’ve all heard the controversy over whether Red Chinese gymnast He Kexin is 14 or 16. A hacker has found documents in the Baidu (the Red Chinese search engine) cache that indicate she is 14. Some commenters have attacked the hacker, pointing out some potential errors in the search. A few point out that it’s really strange that official documents relating to are disappearing from Google and Baidu.
   Meanwhile, it was revealed that last year, the Xinhua news agency—a branch of the Communist Party—reported that He was 13.
   The has denied it ever gave the agency her age.
   It has emerged since that the People’s Daily, another arm of the Communist Party, reported in May that He was 14. I’m surprised this page has not been altered yet, while all the old spreadsheets have disappeared, and other articles have either been modified or deleted from the web.
   Will the Politburo dare suggest that that it never gave the newspaper her age either? Has the journalist lately “disappeared”?
   One speech given by a leading Red Chinese official last year introduced He as 13, to no subsequent corrections.
   I’m simply using the own official mouthpieces to raise a question, because all this seems really contradictory: 14 before the controversy, 16 (in the same newspaper) after. What gives?
   As a Chinese person I am really delighted that the Chinese people have done so well in the medal stakes. The are one time I root for someone who is Chinese because I can put aside. But when it comes to things that put us all in disrepute, I can’t help but point to those that might be responsible.
   If it were not for any age limit, I say the Chinese athletes in gymnastics totally deserved their medals for some outstanding performances.
   The age question itself comes into fashion more than often—I stood by the choice of a 14-year-old winner, Elle Gibson, in the Cadbury Dream Model Search competition last year, because she was the best and I was confident of the management that she would receive. With less reputable agencies, I would be the first to cry foul over a model who is too young. Some of those same concerns about exploitation drive my worries over He Kexin.
   I find it sad that a teenager (14 or 16) has been caught up in this when she is an innocent party. I hope that He does not face any bans if she is found to be underage. If there is deception, the parties behind it need to dealt with.

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