RED SONGS CURBED BUT NOT BANNED

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation -

A sig­na­ture ac­tion of ousted Chongqing Com­mu­nist Party chief Bo Xi­lai­was to hold mass ral­lies for the singing of com­mu­nist songs, or “red songs.” Mr. Bo’s pro­gram was of­fi­cially cur­tailed by the new pro­pa­ganda chief, who an­nounced the move Mon­day in the south­west­ern me­trop­o­lis of more than 30 mil­lion peo­ple.

He Shizhong, Chongqing’s new party pro­pa­ganda depart­ment chief, or­dered a re­duc­tion in the scale of “con­cen­trated stage per­for­mances” of “red songs,” and di­rected cit­i­zens to “res­o­lutely avoid cam­paign­style mass singing,” a hall­mark of Mr. Bo’s na­tional fame.

Dur­ing his rule in Chongqing, Mr. Bo im­ple­mented Cul­tural Rev­o­lu­tion-style brain­wash­ing cam­paigns that re­quired all Chongqing cit­i­zens to reg­u­larly sing com­mu­nist songs, in­clud­ing clas­sics such as “The Sun Is Most Red, Chair­man Mao Is Most Dear.”

Mr. Bo also or­ga­nized fre­quent cam­paign-style mass singings of red songs in sport sta­di­ums. At a rally on June 29, for ex­am­ple, he in­vited for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Henry Kissinger to give the key­note ad­dress at a singing event fea­tur­ing more than 100,000 peo­ple in a packed sta­dium. On that oc­ca­sion, Mr. Kissinger’s speech was fol­lowed by a recita­tion of the Com­mu­nist Man­i­festo, word for word, along with scores of red songs per­formed af­ter­ward.

To pro­mote his red song pol­icy, Mr. Bo adroitly used party-con­trolled mass me­dia, es­pe­cially Chongqing’s main tele­vi­sion sta­tion, CQTV, to fan Maoist pop­ulism. In March last year, Mr. Bo or­dered CQTV to ban all ad­ver­tis­ing seg­ments and drama se­ries be­cause he con­sid­ered them “cap­i­tal­ist” and of “petty bour­geois sen­ti­men­tal­ity.”

On March 7, 2011, Mr. Bo or­dered CQTV to broad­cast a daily seg­ment called “The Ev­ery­day Red Song Singing.” The 15-minute pro­gram to­taled 105 min­utes each week.

Mr. Bo’s fun­da­men­tal­ist com­mu­nist pro­pa­ganda poli­cies caught na­tional at­ten­tion as well. For ex­am­ple, 108 red song singing groups from across the na­tion were sent to Chongqing in June to par­tic­i­pate in the red song orgy that was graced by Mr. Kissinger. In some sen­si­tive spots such as the Prospect Hill, just be­hind the Com­mu­nist Party of China lead­er­ship com­pound of Zhong­nan­hai in down­town Bei­jing, reg­u­lar Bo-in­spired red song per­for­mances have been go­ing on for months, al­beit banned one week af­ter his ouster.

How­ever, the di­rec­tive for­mally cur­tail­ing Mr. Bo’s red song cam­paign ap­pears to fall short of a full re­buke.

In fact, Mr. He, the pro­pa­ganda chief, ac­knowl­edged the pos­i­tive ef­fects of the red song cam­paign, but merely urged party pro­pa­ganda cadres to re­duce the fa­nati­cism with which the ac­tiv­i­ties were car­ried out un­der Mr. Bo.

The di­rec­tive, Mr. He re­vealed, keeps the ban on “cap­i­tal­ist” com­mer­cials on CQTV. How­ever, the 15minute “Ev­ery­day Red Song Singing” seg­ment will be re­placed with a 45-minute-long “Weekly Col­lec­tions of Red Songs” that will be broad­cast on week­ends.

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