New Drinking Songs

Political jingles are not new in China. Even in Mao’s time, powerless people at the bottom of society used jingles to express themselves (often in the form of veiled criticism, sarcasm or anger, in reaction to the dominance of official propaganda).

In the Internet age, those kinds of “songs of the weak” now have an explicit space to be collaboratively (and anonymously) composed and distributed. The following is called “New drinking songs,” thanks to David Kelly for the translation:

Drinking songs are a custom at Chinese banquets. A person starts a form and the person next to him must follow the same form to create a similar one. Whoever fails to do so has to take a drink of hard liquor.


My chopsticks are pointed; my plate is round,

I’ve been in hundreds of thousands of hotels,

I’ve eaten at thousands of hundreds of restaurants,

Did I spend a single penny? No! *

Propaganda Department Minister:

My pen is pointed; the brush is round,

I’ve written hundreds of thousands of speeches,

I’ve published thousands of hundreds of articles

Was a single sentence true? No!

Organization Department Minister:

The Department’s sign is pointed; its seal is round,

I’ve inspected hundreds of thousands of cadres,

And promoted thousands of hundreds of officials,

Were any of them decent people? No!


Director of Bureau of Water Resources

Rocks are pointed; waves are round,

I have built hundreds of thousands of dams,

And thousands of hundreds of them are deficient,

Was there any steel braces in the dams? No!


My keys are pointed; the locks are round,

I’ve stolen from hundreds of thousands of big bosses,

I’ve stolen from thousands of hundreds of Party Secretaries,

Was a single one reported? No!


Gold bars are pointed; a golden watch is round,

I have contracted hundreds of thousands of construction projects,

I have completed thousands of hundreds of sub-standard ones,

Have I ever being held responsible? No!

University Professor:

A is pointed; O is round

I have taught hundreds of thousands of students

I have met thousands of hundreds of talented ones

Do any of them stay in China? No!



My hair is pointed; my head is round,

I’ve been in hundreds of thousands of hair salons,

I’ve met thousands of hundreds of lady hairdressers

Could a single one give a haircut? No! **

* Government cadres’ eating and drinking (gongkuan chihe) are one of the most resented practices in China.
** “Hair salons are often covers for prostitution places in many Chinese cities.


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