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Lei Feng heritage for the whole world

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Lei Feng, in a new cartoon to be released June 1

March 5 is Lei Feng Day, a day set aside to celebrate the life of the PLA soldier who became a model for selflessness and obedience after his untimely death in 1962.

Even with stories about the NPC and CPPCC sessions filling up newspaper pages this week, the media has still found time to report on "living Lei Fengs" doing good works in various communities, and to complain that people no longer celebrate Lei Feng Day like they used to.

To make sure that Lei Feng stays alive in the hearts of the Chinese people, CPPCC member Liu Jianglong, has submitted a proposal suggesting that the government apply for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status for the "Lei Feng Spirit." From today's Chongqing Morning Post:

Liu Jianglong explained that in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, the Lei Feng Spirit was widely propagated and carried out throughout society. Over the course of history, many Lei Feng-style heroes emerged.

"Today, however, as society and culture are rapidly developing, Lei Feng is being increasingly ignored. Many young people don't even know who he is."

Liu said, "Particularly since the 1990s, learning from Lei Feng has regressed from something that people voluntarily do in the course of their daily lives, to formulaic, commemorative actions."

Liu brought up a bewildering example: One year on March 5, different groups performing "learn from Lei Feng" activities ended up helping one old man to a bathhouse five separate times.

Liu contrasts the sad state of the Lei Feng Spirit in China with its supposed popularity overseas by bringing up a couple of dubious examples of Lei Feng's international stature:

Lei Feng's image is among five portraits hanging in the hall at America's famous West Point Military Academy, and his famous quotation, "Life is limited, but there are no limits to serving the people," is printed in the West Point student rulebook.

In Thailand, the government once issued a booklet about Lei Feng, calling on the country's citizens to follow the Lei Feng Spirit and contribute more to the society and the nation.

"So I recommend that the government apply for International Cultural Heritage status for the Lei Feng Spirit so that it can bring good habits to society," CPPCC member Liu Jianglong said.

Are UNESCO's heritage lists really that influential with kids today? They're probably more concerned with cartoons and games.

With that in mind, an animation studio in Shenyang is hard at work on a thirty-episode series, The Story of Lei Feng, which will air on CCTV starting on June 1, International Children's Day.

The 20-million-yuan program will use a combination of 2D and 3D animation, with characters brought to life through motion capture techniques.

Pang Baochun, chairman of Shenyang Chunqiu Animation, which is producing the series, explained the difficulties the company faces in bringing an icon to the screen:

How to shoot Lei Feng is a serious question. He has a lot of folk color, but he's not simply an individual: he's the embodiment of a spirit. So we can't try for comedy, but comedy can't be absent, either. Our production is under a lot of pressure.

Pang is counting on success. Come June, the marketplace will be filled with Lei Feng-branded tie-in book bags, school supplied, books, and DVDs. And Lei Feng's three treasured possessions, the "scrap box," "keepsake chest," and "sewing kit," will be turned into a line of toys so that today's youth can cultivate their own sense of conservation and altruism.

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There are currently 9 Comments for Lei Feng heritage for the whole world.

Comments on Lei Feng heritage for the whole world

In today's NBC Nightly News, Brian William called the audience to submit stories to NBC about good people doing good works in their communities. Such stories are especially needed during this depressing time, he said.

It seems to me that American "living Lei Fengs" and patriotic stories have also been staple features of the NBC nightly news. I like Brian Williams, by the way.

If the stories about Lei Feng can be modernized, it would be a very good candidate for film directors, like how Kungfu Panda is done.

There's a couple of good scenes in Morning Sun where interviewees recall their disappointment, even as enthusiastic young children of the revolution, with the Lei Feng campaign back when it first began. They contrasted the youth of the Party's elders like Mao - reading and debating, and voluntarily forming associations to change the world, later even taking up arms - with the demand that latter-day young Chinese merely aspire to being "rustless screws" in a machine not of their making. That the whole thing was entirely made up didn't help either.

civic responsibility is a foreign concept to most Chinese citizens. lending a helping hand to a stranger is asking for too much from them. Why make leifeng a world heritage when most Chinese youth don't even know who he was. What really did they spend the 20 million yuan on, visit to those bathhouses perhaps.

His portrait is not hanging at West Point, nor is he in the West Point student rulebook. I'm a graduate and I've never even heard of Lei Feng.

"How to shoot Lei Feng is a serious question."

Damn right - but he just won't die!

Ok, I know for a fact that the part about Lei Feng being memorialized at West Point being completely fabricated. A former instructor had a Lei Feng poster in his office and a Chinese newspaper came to West Point to do an article on the Academy. They visited his office, took a picture of the Lei Feng poster, and that picture was subsequently published in many newspapers with the caption "West Point cadets study Lei Feng" 99% of cadets do not have any idea who Lei Feng is, and anything to the contrary is erroneous.

By the way, does anyone have any good information on how West Point (西点军校) has been reported on in PRC?

Children in China are poor, because they are forced to keep away from the truth. Since primary school, children are in the course of being pumped patriotism and obedience into their minds. Children may remember the written history accurately in their history books, but never know what truly happened in history; children may like the character in cartoon Leifeng, but never have a chance to question the true Leifeng in history.

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