Party is deifying itself, scholar warns

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2011, 12:00am


An outspoken academic has launched a scathing attack on the propaganda blitz marking the Communist Party's 90th anniversary, saying the ongoing campaign is deifying the party.

In an open letter to the party leadership just two days ahead of tomorrow's anniversary, Professor Zhao Shilin, a scholar at Beijing's Minzu University of China, also criticised the propaganda machine for trumpeting the party's successes and achievements 'selectively', while deliberately ignoring the 'terrible mistakes' the party has made. 'Don't deify and glorify the Communist Party in the propaganda campaign to mark the party's 90th anniversary,' Zhao wrote.

As the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party has drawn closer, the country has been swept up in a wave of orchestrated revolutionary nostalgia unseen since the Cultural Revolution. The propaganda blitz includes a star-studded patriotic film and massive media coverage, with major newspapers and internet portals decorating their front pages and home pages with red backgrounds and patriotic banners. Television audiences are being bombarded with documentaries, dramas and revolutionary songs praising the party and hailing its success.

Zhao also attacked an ongoing campaign, launched by Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai some three years ago and now flourishing across the country, urging citizens to sing 'red songs'. In the run-up to the anniversary, the Chinese people have been constantly urged 'to love the party, love the nation and love socialism'.

Propaganda tsar Li Changchun , ranked No 5 in the party's nine-man Politburo Standing Committee, recently ordered state media to create 'a dense atmosphere of solemnity and ardour, joy and peace, unity and advancement and scientific development'.

'[We] should not let the 'masters' (the people) say to the 'servants' (party officials) every day 'the party is my dear mother',' Zhao wrote, referring to popular songs that describe the ruling party as the people's beloved mother. The party says ordinary people are masters of the country and party officials their servants.

One series being aired on China Central Television is 90 Years of Red Songs, a show in which a parade of celebrities sing classic revolutionary songs. Among the most popular are The East is Red and Without the Chinese Communist Party There is No New China.

'Yes, without the Chinese Communist Party, there is no new China,' Zhao said. 'Also there is no Great Leap Forward campaign, no anti-rightist campaign and no Cultural Revolution.' During the Great Leap Forward, from 1958 to 1961, millions died of hunger under late leader Mao Zedong's extremist economic policies. Millions of intellectuals were purged, with many tortured to death under Mao's anti-rightist campaign in 1957 and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution [from 1966 to 1976].

'The propaganda campaign to mark the party's anniversary should not just focus on the [party's] achievements, and even go as far as to deify the party, while turning a blind eye to numerous corrupt officials. [We] should not fill our ears with [such words as] great, glorious and righteous,' Zhao said, referring to a party slogan - 'the party is great, glorious and righteous'.