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Christmas, belly dancing with snakes and Caijing magazine

caijing_belly_dancer.jpg

Shanghai's propaganda chiefs have told the city's media to cool off on Christmas, according to a Financial Times report:

The Shanghai media have been ordered to play down any stories that promote Christmas, a celebration the city's propaganda chiefs worry may come to rival traditional Chinese festivals.

The directive was contained this week in one of the regular missives by the Propaganda Department to all media dictating how they should handle news stories. It includes a suggestion that stories say any presents given around this time are to celebrate the coming new year, rather than Christmas.

The directive coincides with a surge of interest in Christmas in China, spurred by department stores and other retailers wanting to promote sales.

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Beijing-based media companies are certainly getting into the commercial swing of the Western holiday season: starting in late November, many commercial magazines have been holding parties and special evenings for their advertising clients. The events usually include a dinner, luck draw and other games, and a speech from the editor or publisher of the magazine. Somehow, the representatives from big advertising clients always end up winning prizes in the luck draw.

The best of such parties attended by Danwei informants was held by the investigative business magazine Caijing. The party took place in a Xinjiang restaurant. Editor-in-chief Hu Shuli gave a short speech, and then the entertainment commenced.

The fun and games included a music by a traditional Xinjiang trio, dancing by Uighur girls in revealing outfits, lucky draws and games. In one game, a male member of the audience was blindfolded. Uigur music started to play, and then a belly dancer came onto the stage. She was holding a large boa constrictor. She danced in front of the blindfolded man, and then put the snake around his neck. Then she took the blindfold off. The man was surprisingly calm when he opened his eyes and saw the snake.

It is difficult to imagine such activities at a soiree for the Economist or Wall Street Journal. Well, their loss.

- In other news from the SEEC media group which controls Caijing, the ban on some of their other publications reported on Danwei here is apparently causing no worries at SEEC. Sources say publication of the 'banned' titles will go ahead because the legal difficulties have been resolved.

The Financial Times article on Shanghai's Christmas clamp-down is here. Caijing's dry but informative English page is here.

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