Bo Xilai

Bo Xilai hones English to get message across in Chongqing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 October, 2010, 12:00am

The Chongqing municipal government's omnipresent control of society is legendary. Now its tentacles have reached the realm of English translation - in what appears to be yet another ideological push supported by the municipality's flamboyant leader.

Slogans used in a quality-of-life campaign spearheaded by Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai are often badly translated and leave foreigners confused, the Chongqing Morning Post reported. In response, the authorities issued official English translations to better promote his ideals to the outside world.

The five aims of the campaign - to make Chongqing a city more suitable to live in, to build an efficient transportation system, to increase forestry area, to lower the crime rate and improve work safety standards as well as to create a healthy living environment - are often literally translated into strange sounding English terms including 'Health Chongqing', 'Transport Chongqing' and 'Peace Chongqing'.

The government-sanctioned translations suggest the better sounding 'Liveable Chongqing' and 'Safe Chongqing' but also include strange-sounding terms like 'Traffic-Smooth Chongqing' and 'Forest Chongqing'.

Bo's famed anti-triad campaign is translated more subtly as 'crime crackdown', omitting any mention of organised criminal gangs in a city plagued by corruption and crime. Critics say Bo's campaigns mark a return of Cultural Revolution-style controls.

The latest list of authorised English translations include terms such as 'singing revolutionary songs', 'reading classic books' and 'spreading the slogans'. Bo, always keen to burnish an image of himself as a faithful follower of party tradition, has been pushing a series of nostalgia campaigns in Chongqing since taking over as party chief in December 2007.

Bo, the son of revolutionary elder Bo Yibo , leads party meetings in the singing of revolutionary songs, has had statues of Mao Zedong erected and text messages of Mao quotes sent to millions of Chongqing mobile phone users.

The government has been criticised for tightening internet controls in the name of fighting pornography, piracy and cybercrimes while, in fact, more often removing politically sensitive content. Earlier this year, Bo garnered the support of 42 internet companies to extol the 'revolutionary spirit' and pass on 'red culture' on their websites.