I was in a cab this afternoon coming home from an appointment up in Wudaokou, the university district of Beijing, when I spotted a nearly block-long billboard that made me laugh out loud. It wasn’t an advertising billboard, but one set up and maintained by the neighborhood or district neighborhood committee (smallest unit of local government here). Every neighborhood in the urban areas has these committees who are responsible for sanitation and security in the neighborhood. In addition, they have a political function of making sure that everyone in their jurisdiction is up on the latest Party pronouncements. Hence they maintain “propaganda board” around the neighborhood where residents can read the latest Party reports and get up to date on the lastest political slogans.
The main theme that the Party has adopted this year is “haromony,” and is thus attempting to mobilize the masses around the goal of “building a harmonious society.” As a result, the word “harmony” has become ubiquitous! I’ve had a number of events this fall where I’ve had to give speeches (in Chinese and English) with Chinese officials present. I always made sure that I included the word somewhere. I’ll take points any way I can get them!
Ok, back to the propaganda board in Wudaokou. It said this: “A little bit more science…a little bit more democracy…a little bit more reasoning…a little bit more tolerance…a little bit more love….will lead to a harmonious society!”
If that weren’t funny enough, this is the same neighborhood that has a giant banner with a verse from 1 Corinthians 13 hanging in the post office!