As China’s battle against the coronavirus outbreak continues, anger has spilled over online, testing the leadership’s capacity to achieve what it calls “guidance of public opinion,” or the control of society through information control. Users on WeChat, Weibo and many other platforms have shared stories, photos, video, or simply vented their rage at what many see as the inadequacy of the government’s response, particularly at the early stages of the outbreak.
And as communities across China mobilize against the spread of the disease, they are naturally exercising one very creative (and often revealing) aspect of the country’s political culture – the ubiquitous “slogan,” or biāoyǔ (标语). Such slogans, which may deal with local or national policy issues as well as the personal — everything from (in the past) the one-child policy, to pushing basic social mores (like caring for one’s parents), to protests over the forced demolition of one’s home — are generally very simple in structure, direct (or even crude) and easy to understand.
As one post on China’s WeChat platform noted today, slogans should be artful enough to have the capacity to “intimidate, seduce, threaten or coerce.”
Here we share a number of current slogans invented in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak that have appeared on social media (see link above) and are reportedly from communities across China. We provide in some cases only approximate translations for these clever and frightful creations, some quite difficult to fully convey.
A face mask or a breathing tube,
Make a choice, it’s up to you.
Returning home with your disease,
Will not make your parents pleased.
Infect mom and dad,
And your conscience is bad.
Save money not wearing a mask,
Spend big getting cured in your sickbed.
Not gathering for a feast is so you can eat in the future,
Not visiting others is so you still have relatives in the future.
No visits from the New Year this year,
Those who come visiting are enemies.
We don’t open the door for enemies.
Those who don’t mention their fever,
Are class enemies lurking among the people.
Earnestly prevent the infection of your home,
Casting out even your in-laws if they come.
This house has a returnee from Wuhan,
Please do not come visit!