Posted by Brendan O'Kane on Wednesday, March 8, 2006 at 6:14 PM
With this year's NPC and CPPCC convening in Beijing, the Chinese government has taken steps to address a startling, ever-widening gap dividing the government from the general public. Not the wage gap -- they're totally kidding about that one -- but rather the cool gap.
The campaign to show China's youth that the septuagenarians deciding their fates are "cool," "with it," and "totally niubi" began with an announcement this weekend that iconic model worker Lei Feng was "an obviously fun-loving young man who was hip with his times." Lei, a People's Liberation Army squad leader who, before getting crushed by a telephone pole, famously said that he wanted to be "a little screw" for the Revolution, posthumously becoming the mascot for a beloved series of kitsch memorabilia including posters, cigarette lighters, and reprints of his diaries.
That's how you get the ladies.
Speaking of the ladies: in honor of 3/8, International Women's Day, naughty news agency Xinhua, having apparently run out of unauthorized scans of swimsuit calendars, paparazzi photographs of Paris Hilton, and Ukranian mud wrestlers, presents "The Lovely Ladies of the Two Meetings," a photo spread of all of the female-looking things they could find in the vicinity of the Great Hall of the People.
Your correspondent was worried that he'd be put in the position of having to make snarky remarks about female Party leaders' datability, but in a massive stroke of luck, almost none of the pictures on that page are of actual female Party members. Mostly they're of reporters, girls holding Olympic mascots whose misshapen visages "bring luck for the two meetings," token Uyghurs, and, quote, "ceremony [attendant] girls taking advantage of the sunny, warm day at Tian'anmen Square to become "beautiful scenery" at the NPC and CPPCC."
Probably for the best.
Links and Sources:
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.