Repackaging the Revolutionary Classics of China

On the eve of the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, a nostalgia for red songs is sweeping China, according to this New York Times article:

China has boomed during three decades of economic reform, and has in many respects tried to distance itself from the Mao era, when tens of millions died from deprivation and state-directed violence. But Communist Party leaders still promote the myths and icons of that time to instill patriotism and loyalty in the population.

The latest iteration, started by the ambitious party chief of Chongqing, Bo Xilai, is centered on singing Communist classics, and has been copied by central leaders for a nationwide mobilization to celebrate the 90th anniversary.

Party officials have told schools, state-owned companies and neighborhood committees to organize choirs to sing red songs and stage musical numbers, celebrating Maoist classics like “The East is Red” and “Without the Communist Party There Would be No New China.” In Chongqing, even prisons are holding singalongs, and one psychiatric hospital has prescribed it for patients.

The revival has moved well beyond just red songs in this municipal area of 31 million, whose urban core is built on foggy hills overlooking the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers. In initiatives reminiscent of the Mao era, the government has ordered each cadre to live with a family in the countryside for a month, transmitted Maoist slogans to residents via text message, and told Chongqing Satellite Television to fill prime-time hours with educational red programming and cut all commercial advertising.

The article also includes a video.


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