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China: Red Culture Fever

Before Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai launched his Red Songs campaign this year, the latest component of his larger ‘red revival’ scheme which began in 2008, prisons in the city had begun promoting “red culture” as a way to rehabilitate inmates. More recently, a larger and more structured ‘reducation’ program which developed from the Chongqing model has been implemented in Yuzhang Prison in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.

Yuzhang Prison's “introducing red culture” approach to reforming criminals, notes [zh] one Jiangxi-based Sina Weibo microblogger, entails:

在监狱中大力开展红色主题系列教育活动包括“红色”影视展播、“红色”专题讲座、“红色”典型教育活动、“红色”主题讨论、“红色”知识统考、“红色”教育评审和“红色”活动总结表彰,目的是促进教育改造质量的全面提高。

…a full-out launch in the prison of a series of red-themed activities, including “red” teleplay and film screenings, “red”-themed lectures, model “red” education activities, “red”-themed discussions, “red” knowledge testing, “red” education evaluations and “red” event award ceremonies, the goal of all of which is to push for a higher quality reform through education.

A perhaps daring move trying to push all this on the inmates at Yuzhang Prison, if you consider that 90% of them are serving commuted death sentences, or what ideas a neo-Maoist mass revolutionary education might give to several thousand [zh] potentially dangerous ex-convicts.

Other discussions on Sina Weibo [zh] about the prison experiment break down further just what kind of red education it is Yuzhang Prison inmates are receiving, noting that it includes:

【重庆江西等地监狱引入“红色文化”改造服刑人员】重庆市共精选100首红色歌曲,购买各类红色经典图书8万余册,播放红色影片300多部,举办红色故事会1200余场。犯人要唱红歌、读红书、看红色电影、写红色励志格言、办红色专题讲座……甚至还要参加“红色”知识统考,监狱要进行“红色”教育评审

One hundred red songs chosen in Chongqing, more than 80,000 classic red books purchased, over 300 red films screened and over 1,200 red story storytelling sessions. Inmates have to sing red songs, read red books, watch red films, write red inspirational decrees, hold red-topic lectures…..

Others point out that Chinese students at every level of China's education system still receive their fair share of red education and the closest they seem to have gotten to any kind of mass movement is group buy. A Legal Daily article that seems to have been one of the earliest sources for news of the campaign offers a few more details, such as that descendants of former red soldiers were invited as special guests to Yuzhang Prison's red culture launch party, inmates are having their terms reduced for red behavior, and that preparations began in April following decision by the Jiangxi Bureau of Prison Administration Bureau to introduce the program to all prisons in the province.

A NetEase news story on the Jiangxi prison [zh] has drawn more than 55,000 comments, most of them critical. On the more mainstream Sina Weibo, the thousands of comments made regarding the prison red culture rehabilitation drive tend to reflect a similar tone:

冯不让:唱完红歌能减刑提前释放吗?(3月29日 19:53)
取什么名字是个问题:日啊,大家转,这些人出来绝对是好打手,第一次感到非常恐怖(3月29日 20:02)
谷宇时节:都不是拿纳税人的钱买的,对吗?(3月29日 20:09)
天天落井下石:这是一种思想传销啊. 但愿他进不了十八大政治局. 否则就是悲剧.(3月29日 21:29)
邢振斌V:呵呵洗脑专家又有新作了(3月29日 21:45)

- Do you get released or have your sentence reduced once you finish singing the red songs?
– Damn, spread this news around, these guys are gonna be great thugs when they get let out, I've never felt this scared before.
– None of this was paid for using taxpayer money, right?
– This is like a mental pyramid scheme. I hope Bo doesn't make it into the 18th Politburo, or else this is gonna end up a tragedy.
– Heh, the latest masterpiece from the brainwashing experts.

Going earlier, on March 27 in Chongqing, the Ministry of Justice convened a meeting to discuss “moving red culture into the prisons” with prison system cadres. At the meeting, it was decided [zh] to expand the red culture program from Chongqing Municipality and Jiangxi province to prisons in four additional provinces (Shaanxi, Hubei, Hunan and Sichuan) which, netizens pointed out, are some of the poorest in the country.

Of that, one Sina Weibo users asks [zh]:

【2011年,我们走进了“新红歌时代”?】江西的选秀,陕西的职工大会,天津的法院,延安的监狱纷纷唱起了红歌,各地高校成为这一轮唱红歌的主阵地。专家说,这体现了中国社会转型时期,面对各种矛盾和危机,执政党对塑造社会价值体系的一种寻找。红歌能承载起今日中国人的信仰之重吗?

“It's 2011, have we entered the ‘New Red Song Era'?” From the trade union congress in Shaanxi to courts in Tianjin, prisons in Yan'an and all over have started singing red songs, and campuses everywhere are the front line for singing red songs. Experts say this shows that Chinese society is in a transition, and faces conflicts and crises of every sort, a manifestation of the ruling party's search for the values that shape society. Are red songs enough to keep Chinese people today believing?

Also at Sina Weibo, one user in Zhejiang province writes [zh]:

到处唱红歌,江西一监狱说用红歌改造犯人,典型的文革遗风。我们父辈们红歌唱的还少吗?产出的是什么?我们看到听到吃到的是毒奶、毒肉、毒面包。如我们唱把农奴的心儿照亮,可我们现在希望把房奴的心儿照亮。社会主义道德体系的重建,是一个复杂的工程,红歌不是唱唱而已。

People singing red songs everywhere, a prison in Jiangxi says it uses red songs to reform prisoners, classic relics from the Cultural Revolution. Our elders sang their fair share of red songs, no doubt. What good will it do? Everything we see, hear and eat is all poisonous milk powder, poisonous meat, poisonous bread. Sure, we could go and sing “light up my serf's heart”, but what we really hope for is some lightening up of our ‘mortgage slave’ hearts. Reconstructing the socialist ethical system is a complicated process, not something that can be done just by singing a few red songs.

Also from Sina Weibo and other commercial online media news stories such as NetEase and Phoenix:

网友Frederick Wang称“江西监狱今年启动红色教育活动,包括唱红歌、读红书、看红色电影、写红色格言”等。这招太强了,一定能大大降低当地的犯罪率。

A prison in Jiangxi this year launched a red education initiative which includes singing red songs, reading red books, watching red films and writing red inspirational resolutions, etc. This is too much. The crime rate will definitely go far down.

改造完以后,江西就没有监狱了,因为所有监狱都变成精神病院了。

Once they're reformed, Jiangxi won't have any prisons left, they'll all have turned into mental health facilities.

网易广东省广州市网友 [俺是开扎古的]: [加关注]2011-05-03 20:08:19 发表
服刑完了只能送精神病院继续进修…

Once you finish your sentence you'll have to go to a mental hospital for further studies…..

网易广东省东莞市网友 [星斗草民]: [加关注]2011-05-03 20:14:25 发表
惨………漫延了

Tragic…..it's spreading.

网易广东省手机网友TELE_735HB7I2_{} ip:120.84.*.* [手机上163.com看贴回贴] 2011-05-03 20:23:43 发表
需要警惕这种慢延!

We need to be vigilant against the spread of this!

2011-03-29 18:00 浙江省绍兴市网友 wq212720
有人想重走文革老路

Looks like somebody wants to go back down the road to Cultural Revolution

2011/03/29 19:51 重庆市网友 平雨
人民是坚决不会同意的,你放心。

People will definitely never agree to that, you can relax.

The red thing is definitely catching on. Or is it? On March 28, 10,000 Communist Party of China members gathered in a square in Chongqing (see above) to renew their Party vows; there's now red volleyball and red tourism; a university in China's impoverished Henan province caused ripples last month when it started forcing students to enjoy red songs in the lunch cafeteria.

But then China is a rapidly growing consumer society, so where's all the irony? This story of a couple in the Jiangxi countryside who chose a red theme for their wedding last week, for example, drew several hundred mostly snarky and sarcastic comments on Sina Weibo:

In early April, Yuzhang Prison applied to participate in a red song version of American Idol. Popular in that it boasts 400,000 auditions since it began five years ago, the ‘red song show’ now has plans to expand globally, “anywhere with ethnic Chinese”. News of the prison's move to try and get on television drew hundreds of more comments all across Sina Weibo and elsewhere. One microblogger writes [zh]:

江西台《2011中国红歌会》玩犯人?设立监狱赛区?疯了吧!监狱不惜暴露犯人隐私而标榜自己的人性化改造?邀功吗?电视台满足少数人窥视犯人唱歌的模样吗?想娱乐囚犯们声泪俱下的忏悔吗?电视创意要有个度,江西豫章监狱看菲律宾监狱跳杰克逊眼红吗?人家可是自发的,小心玩火了会遭众骂的!

So now Jiangxi TV's “2011 China Red Song Gala” wants to play with inmates? They want to hold the competition inside a prison? Crazy! Prisons are willing to sacrifice prisoners’ privacy just for a chance to show off their human nature reform project? Can the prison even rightfully claim that as their own doing? How many people are actually going to be interested in peeking at singing convicts? Will prisoners’ tearful confessions become entertainment too? Such creativity, this TV station, they must have gotten jealous after seeing those prisoners in the Philippines dancing to Michael Jackson. That was a spontaneous event! You're playing with fire, be careful you don't end up getting cursed out by your audience!

The Red Revival started in Chongqing and has spread since 2008, picking up speed starting this year. How far can it go? When top Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials in Chongqing decided to give representatives from radical Maoist website Utopia (wyzxsx.com) an official reception earlier this week, it was treated online like an announcement that a culture war had begun. A thread on KDNet [zh] detailing a tour by the Maoist delegation to operations of the city's ongoing corruption crackdown, led by spokesman director of the political department of the Chongqing Municipal PSB and commander of the city PSB's Economic Investigation Corps, Zhou Jingping, received 500 comments before it was harmonized. In part, the post read:

网友们还在下车的时候,以重庆市公安局党委委员、政治部主任周京平同志为首的接待人员已大踏步迎了过来。大家一起沿着阶梯走到“打黑除恶”展厅的入口。在网友们的欢呼声中,知名网友红色娘子军和《谁是最可爱的人》作者魏巍的大女儿魏欣受乌有之乡网站站长范景刚同志委托,代表乌有之乡网站及广大红色网友向重庆市公安局赠送了大红锦旗。周主任代表重庆市公安局庄重地接过了这承载亿万人民心声的荣耀!锦旗上红底黄字格外鲜亮:“人民公安红心卫重庆,红岩儿女热血铸精魂”,在明媚的阳光下熠熠生辉、光彩夺目,不由得让人倍感温暖与亲切——这是一种久违的家的感觉。

While netizens were still getting off the bus, a group led by comrade Zhou Jingping came out to greet us. Everyone headed straight for the “strike corruption, remove evil” exhibition hall. With netizens cheering, well-known netizens Red Women's Detachment, Wei Xin, eldest daughter of Wei Wei, author of “Who are the Most Beloved People”, and Utopia webmaster and comrade Fan Jinggang went forward as representatives of the Utopia website and the masses of red netizens to present the Chongqing PSB with a large red banner. On half of the Chongqing PSB, Director Zhou accepted this great honor which carries the hearts of hundreds of millions of the people! Written on the red banner in yellow letters was: “The red heart of the People's Public Security looks over Chongqing, cast with the blood and souls of the sons and daughters of the Red Crag“. Beneath the glowing, radiant, glorious and brilliant sun, one couldn't help but feel the warmth and intimacy—that feeling of returning home after a long absence.

网友们与重庆市公安局陪同参观的人员热情握手致谢并告别,怀着对黑势力的深恶痛绝和对劳苦大众的深厚感情,“毛主席万岁!向重庆人民学习!”等口号再次响彻云霄。网友们以此结束了本次参观,以更加坚定的信念开启了新的征途。
通过本次参观,同志们更加认清了极端右翼势力攻击重庆模式的险恶用心。让诸如《南方都市报》等汉奸媒体不实报道的罪行显露无疑,让那些以“自由民主、全面客观、公平公正”自居的“斗士”们原形毕露。
通过本次参观,同志们心中的某些疑惑解除了,理想信念更加坚定了,对当前斗争形势则有了更加全面客观的把握:党内健康力量唯有与人民群众结合才能拥有改天换地的力量,而广大的人民群众唯有尽量争取党内健康力量才能更快迎来伟大的社会主义复兴运动。薄熙来同志认真学习贯彻毛泽东思想,执行党的群众路线,眼光向下,利益惠民。重庆的警民关系又回归到了毛主席时代的水平,这就是最好的证明。薄熙来同志说,革命的道理千条万条,归根结底就是一条:全心全意为人民服务。这次“打黑除恶”,群众寄来1万多封举报信,80%是实名举报,也是一场人民战争!战争胜负、政权兴衰,最根本的是人心向背!

Netizens warmly shook hands with and said goodbyes to their guides from the Chongqing PSB, full of hatred and loathing for the black forces and profound empathy for the toiling masses. “Long live Chairman Mao!, Let's learn from the Chongqing people!,” and other slogans rang out again through the air. Thus netizens finished their visit and, full of faith, set out on a new path.

With this visit, comrades were able to see more clearly the far right's sinister intentions in attacking the Chongqing model. It allowed us to see as clear as day the crimes of Southern Metropolis Daily and other race traitor media with their untruthful reports, and exposed the true colors of those who pass themselves off as “fighters” for “freedom, democracy, objectivity, fairness and justice.”

With this visit, certain doubts in the hearts of comrades have been cleared away, and ideals and convictions reaffirmed, giving us a much more objective understanding of the fight which lays before us: only the force of an internally healthy Party's alignment with the masses has the power to change heaven and earth, and only with the masses of the People's utmost struggle for the strength of inner-Party health will we see a quick revival of the movement for grand Socialism. Comrade Bo Xilai has earnestly studied Mao Zedong thought and put the Party on the path of the masses, looking out for us, and the interests which benefit the People. The best proof of this is that relations between police and the People have been restored to the level seen during the Chairman Mao era. Comrade Bo Xilai said that there are a million steps in the road to revolution, and a return to basics is but one of them: full-hearted and full-minded service for the people. During the campaign to “strike corruption, remove evil”, more than 10,000 informants have stepped up from the masses, 80% of whom have done so using their real names. This is a people's war! The future of the regime is at stake, most crucial now is popular support!

2008年经济危机以来,国际局势风云突变,世界格局进入了大调整期,中国的内外矛盾更是积累到了临界点。在美帝国主义支持下的国内极端右翼势力,妄图利用自己占据的各种资源与人民对党和政府的暂时不满,搞**花革命,企图颠覆共和国,推翻中国共产党的领导地位,使中国彻底变成美国殖民地,这是广大中国人民无法容忍和接受的。共产党人薄熙来同志“受任于败军之际,奉命于危难之间”,在重庆依靠党和群众,克服重重困难,努力探索出一条回归社会主义路线的金光大道。人民群众无不高呼:“真共产党又回来了!”张宏良同志则适时提出了“中国共产党具有自我更新的历史能力”,以毛泽东思想的党群一体化内容为依据指引了我们斗争的策略。

With the economic crisis since 2008, drastic changes have taken place in the international order, and the world has entered a period of massive readjustment. Conflicts within and without China have reached a critical point. Domestic extreme rightists, supported by American imperialism, are vainly trying to use all resources available to them and the People's temporary dissatisfaction with the Party and the government to carry out their Jasmine Revolution, try and subvert the Republic, overthrow the Communist Party of China from its leadership position, and turn China into a full colony of the United States. This is something the Chinese masses will neither tolerate nor accept. Communist Party member comrade Bo Xilai, mandated by the possibility of defeat and commanded by threat of the disaster, has turned Chongqing toward the Party and the masses, and overcome major difficulties, searching far and wide to find the path back to Socialism. There's not a single one among the masses not now shouting, “The true Communist Party has returned!” Comrade Zhang Hongliang even made the timely observation that, “the Communist Party of China possesses the historical ability to renew itself”, and the united combination of Mao Zedong thought, the People and the Party serve as the strategic basis for our struggle.

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