Friday Photo: Mao Selling Stuff

In 2005, on my second trip to the far western city of Kashgar, I spotted this odd sight in my hotel lobby. There he was, the Great Helmsman himself, sitting behind a counter of trinkets. I’m still not sure if he was for sale, or if the proprietor of the little hotel shop thought his placement there would attract customers. Either way, I had a good chuckle.

maoseller

More recently, he popped up in a field in Henan Province, where some local villagers decided to build a giant statue in the middle of a field.

gettyimages-503433188-dccccac7a648b51954a7c7184b664c5a20430171-s900-c85

image from NPR

Is it just me, or does that statue look like it’s made out of butter? Perhaps it’s really being built for the Minnesota State Fair!

In the end, however, the statue got too much press worldwide and embarrassed the local officials, so they ordered it taken down.

As they say in China, “what a pity!”

Related Posts:

Friday Photo: The Blue Doors of Kashgar

Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?

A Yak Attack

A Silk Road Oasis

China Under Mao

Leftover Mao Statues

Last Mao Standing

Jesus and Mao on China’s Internet

On April 7, the online magazine Tea Leaf Nation (one of my favorites) published an article titled Infographic: Jesus More Popular Than Mao on China’s Twitter.

The writer set out to determine the prevalence of religious content vs. political content on Weibo and discovered (much to her surprise, it seems) that “the atheist Chinese Communist Party, known for its sometimes heavy-handed policies towards religions, from Islam to Christianity to Tibetan Buddhism, seems far more willing to allow Christian terminology to appear on Weibo than Communist argot, according to data taken from search results on the platform conducted April 3.”

She did a search for “Bible” and “Quotations of Chairman Mao,” and discovered 17 million recent mentions of “Bible” and only 60,000 mentions of Quotations of Chairman Mao.”

A search for “Xi Jinping” (China’s President and General Secretary of the Communist Party) yielded 4 million mentions, while a search for “Jesus” yielded more than 18 million mentions.

She found 41.8 million mentions of “Christian Congregation,” while “Communist Party” only turned up 5.3 million mentions.

In other words, the words “Bible,” “Jesus,” or “Christian” are NOT considered to be sensitive words on Weibo. This is something that I wrote about on this site last year in an article for ChinaSource titled China’s Online Christian Community.

So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the Tea Leaf Nation article veers off course a bit when the writer highlights the results of her search for the term “underground church:”

“That’s not to say that Christian content is free of censorship. A search for the term “underground church,” referring to Christian congregations in China that refuse to register as one of the state-sanctioned churches, produces a blank search page with a notice reading, “results cannot be displayed due to relevant laws and regulations.””

The implication is clearly that these un-registered churches are outside the bounds on Weibo (and by extension, the Internet in general), and therefore fall into the ‘not permitted’ category.

Here’s the problem:  people in China generally do not use the term “underground church” (地下教会) to refer to congregations that are not registered as state-sanctioned churches. That’s a term used almost exclusively by foreigners. The common term for these unregistered churches is “house church” (家庭教会). This is true even if the church meets in a venue other than a house, such as rented office space.

If she had used the term “house church” instead, she would have discovered thousands, if not millions of mentions, something that would have actually bolstered her findings.

That mistake notwithstanding, her conclusion is spot on:

“Chatter about religion may make the Chinese government queasy, and occasionally terrified, but it’s politics that keeps its leaders (and censors) awake at night.”

Note: This post first appeared on the ChinaSource Blog.

 

And the Winners Are…

A special thanks to all the new subscribers from last week. Unfortunately, only 2 of you could win a copy of my book.

The winners are Mark J. and Elaine C.

I will contact you by email to get your mailing addresses.

And now for something completely different to start off your Monday morning.  The good folks at one of my favorite sites, Tea Leaf Nation have posted a very funny photo that has been burning up the Chinese social media scene in China this week, along with a translation of the caption.

I am re-posting it here.

Mao and Zhou Playing Angry Birds

 

Zhou Enlai: I’m so close to getting all those fat green pigs!

Mao Zedong: Aim higher. Use the anger of our proletariat birds to undermine the capitalist superstructure.

Deng Xiaoping: Someone get me a chair.

 

 

 

 

 

And while you’re at it, click on over to Amy’s blog The Messy Middle for her subscription drive.