“Parallelism,” or paibi (排比), is a rhetorical method that when used with appropriate measure can strengthen an article, but when used carelessly can have exactly the opposite effect. This is the front page of the March 4, 2019, edition of the Study Times newspaper, published by the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party, which just this month was upgraded to a central-level news unit.
The Study Times article, pictured here, totals 6,399 characters, and it makes use of 42 parallelisms, or paibiju (排比句).
Deeply receive A, deeply receive B, deeply receive C
The Party School pupils praised highly the General Secretary’s “profound thoughts on history, his deeply-layered theoretical implications and the deep hopes [he] entrusted.” There was, the students noted, the “theoretical hue that keeps abreast with the times,” and the “epochal discourse of dialectical wisdom, which directly faces and assumes practical responsibility,” and “the sincere and guileless ethos of the leader.”
They were not finished.
The General Secretary “stood tall and took a broad vantage, with a manner of full responsibility as a leadership paragon, evincing the personal charisma of the nation and the people, dedicated to the cause of the country, dedicated to the Party and its historic obligations.”
Everyone affirmed that they would actualize in their speech and action the “political character, value demands, spiritual horizons and personal integrity” inherent in Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for the New Era — this being Xi Jinping’s developing banner term, his personal brand, which in recent months has been trying its utmost to condense itself into the transcendent “Xi Jinping Thought” (习近平思想). They would apply this lofty thought and all it represents in their attitude, and in their work.
The language of parallelism here is in fact so dense that it is a tall order to accurately render in English. But perhaps readers get the idea.
In this one article alone there are 42 parallelisms, striking like a deafening chorus of drumbeats. One’s feeling in reading the piece is strange, to say the least.
Of course, reading such absurdly lofty language, how can we not then rush off in search of the Xi Jinping speech that inspired this “response article”? We can find the partial text of the speech published on the front page of the March 2 edition of the People’s Daily.
Moreover, loyalty and belief must “be actualized in speech and in action, be evinced drop after drop, running through one’s life.”
And finally, loyalty to the Party must be “internalized in the heart, planted in the soul and enter the bloodstream.”
All of this is to say that one must, well, be loyal. But more than this, there is a ritual quality to such expressions of loyalty. The parallelism, like the drumbeat, is about the rhythm, music and dance of loyalty. Although, aesthetically speaking, that may be too generous in this case.
The March 8 piece, written by Liu Wei (刘伟), is called “Strengthening Scientific Theories to Arm and Foster a New Generation of Successors” (加强科学理论武装培养新时代接班人). That piece has 8 original and borrowed parallelisms. He mentions, for example, that “Xi Jinping Thought” is “the most important teaching, most authoritative foundation and most fundamental content” of Marxism for the twenty-first century. Then there is the March 11 piece by Liu Yuan (刘渊), “Strengthening Study is the Political Responsibility of Party Members and Cadres” (加强学习是党员干部的政治责任). The piece totals 1,507 characters and includes 13 parallelisms, all of which are apparently original. Liu writes about the need, during study of “Xi Jinping Thought of Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” to emphasize the study of the banner theory’s “scientific nature, modern nature, people nature, practical nature and worldly nature” (科学性、时代性、人民性、实践性、世界性).
And so, may I add to the chorus of parallelisms that we, at this point in China’s history, in this New Era, assiduously follow the New Era, ardently love Chairman Xi, and abundantly employ the parallelism. But forgive me. Writing up to this point I’ve perhaps been infected by spirit. What I wish to say is, that all of those people using parallelisms so lavishly will probably become, before too many years have passed, our new city secretaries, our news provincial Party secretaries, our new Central Committee members, and our new Politburo members.
What can their temperament and the style of their language tell us about our future?