RED SONGS CURBED BUT NOT BANNED
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.