Sun Jiaye (孙嘉业): The Interpretation of the Slogans for China’s National Day

From Hong Kong’s Ming Pao, translated by CDT:

China is a country of slogans. And during significant festivals or celebrations, official slogans are often promoted. Last weekend, the general office of the CPC and the State Council released a list of slogans for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. The official media’s explanation is that the word “harmony” (和谐) –which is not well-received outside the party– appeared five times; netizens in China found the phrase “persist” (坚持) appeared 15 times. Thirteen slogans begin with “persist,” and 14 slogans contain “persist”.

Yet compared with the official slogans during the 50th anniversary 10 years ago in Jiang Zemin’s era—which also created 50 slogans at the time—some more interesting points can be found. Except for some slogans with specific historical background like “Lay Emphasis on Theoretical Study, Political Awareness and Good Conduct” that disappeared, “Wholeheartedly Rely on the Working Class”, “Take Economic Construction as the Central Task, and Stick to the Four Fundamental Principles”, and “Be Self-reliant, Work Hard and Build the Country through Diligence and Thrift”, etc. have also been left out.

“Seize the Strategic Opportunities, Concentrate on Construction, Focus on Development”, and “Persist in Putting People First (以人为本), to Well Implement, Well Maintain, and Well Develop the Fundamental Interests of the Overwhelming Majority of People” were added. The slogan “Respect Knowledge, Respect Talent, Develop the Country Through Science and Education” 10 years ago has been replaced by “Enhance the Ability of Innovation, Build An Innovation-Oriented Country”, which shows a subtle adjustment in policy.

No Mentioning of Political Reform:

The replacement of the slogan “Advance Political System Reform” (“推进政治体制改革”) with “Persist with the Organic Unity of the Party’s Leadership, With People as the Masters of the Country, Ruling the Country by Law!” (“坚持党的领导、人民当家作主、依法治国有机统一”) would disappoint those who hope to facilitate political reform in mainland China. Among the slogans of “Long live…”, the one “Long Live the Great Unity of the People of the World” was missing. Instead, “Long Live the Great Chinese People” was added, which fairly fit China’s pride in its power. It looks like the “Great Chinese People” who have ascended to the throne as a savior don’t need to “unify with the people of the world”.

“Rally Closely Around the CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as the General Secretary” was listed as the 3rd slogan, while 10 years ago the counterpart that “Rally Closely Around the CPC Central Committee with Jiang Zemin as the General Secretary” was only listed as 40th. This fully demonstrates that the position of Hu Jintao now is at least not beneath that of Jiang Zemin ten years ago.

For more, read an interview with Jefffrey Wasserstrom on NPR in which he translates and analyzes the 60th anniversary slogans (read article here; listen to interview here.)

October 4, 2009 9:32 PM
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