Composition of cicadas Afternoon traffic in Beijing.
It is hot and humid, and now after the downpour people are back on the streets.
And in Beijing, everywhere in China, you never have to go far before being reminded of the status quo and the party campaign.
The cityscape is mostly in the form of posters, signs and banners.
There may be a video screen in the elevator. In a taxi, on a subway, on a bus, on a plane.
It’s so common, many people don’t even notice it.
A 50-year-old Deng, I stand at a pedestrian crossing.
Behind her is a multi-meter-long sign of so-called “socialist fundamental values.”
But Thang, not noticing that sign and laughing when I point to the exhibition.
“No, I don’t usually notice things like this. It’s probably a habit I’ve developed because it’s not so important to my daily life,” says Deng.
The state campaign in China is extensive, but goes somewhat in cycles.
For example, on the eve of the party’s 100th anniversary on July 1 this year, large parts of China were decorated to pay homage to the Communist Party.
But this was a temporary campaign with a specific message.
The so-called “basic values of socialism” campaign is remarkably vague and very permanent.
There are 12 worth of words that can be used to even stick to the table at the restaurant you are eating at.
So they are used in school teaching.
Dear 15-year-old Wang and Liu, whom I meet on a street in Beijing, I can list nine of the twelve phrases directly when I ask.
Strength and Prosperity, Democracy, Civilized Behavior, Reconciliation, freedom, equality, justice, the rule of law, but after “patriotism”, Wang’s memory is over.
“This is often something we learn in school, in exams and so on, otherwise it would not be of much use to me,” says Liu.
Ying Miao, a senior lecturer at the University of Aston in the UK, researched how “socialist fundamental values” are used in propaganda.
He describes the rule of the Communist Party as a structure of soft, social control aimed at “penetrating” everyday life, with the aim of legitimizing and creating values among the people who are considered desirable.
So it is about words like patriotism, freedom, reconciliation, democracy.
But the meaning of the words is not the same as we are used to, but is defined on a case-by-case basis by Chinese authorities, says Ying Miao.
And under the umbrella of “socialist fundamental values”, more specific propaganda can be expanded as needed.
Ying Miao is an example of how it is common to spread the most traditional Confucian view of the family and the nation, which draws similarities between the head of the family, a man in general, and the government of the country.
And it is not just ideology, it aims to solve practical problems for the Communist Party, such as dealing with older people or having more children, says Ying Miao.
Another researcher on the Communist Party campaign was Kingsley Edney, a senior lecturer at the University of Leeds.
He argues that “socialist fundamental values” were a substitute for the common concern that China had become too materialistic and had lost its moral compass.
For example, since the Communist Party could not allow religions to have too much influence, they invented their own moral doctrine.
But Kingsley Edney says the campaign is about living in harmony with censorship.
The vacuum left by the Chinese government The censorship tool has to fill something and the campaign is coming. “So you take it with one hand and give it with the other.”
Kingsley Edney said, “People don’t ask much questions then.
Both Kingsley Edney and Ying Miao believe the Chinese campaign will be effective.
One of the consequences of this is that many, consciously or unconsciously, use the same language, the same words used in state propaganda, and begin to think that way.
I turn it off when I talk to 32 year old Wu.
He often says that the vocabulary from “socialist fundamental values” relates to current events.
“Words seem to reflect the things that happen in your own life,” Wu says, referring to the flooding in his home province of Henan earlier this summer, when many companies and individuals helped and paid for it. “Then I thought about the unity of‘ Tuanchi ’and the strength and prosperity of‘ Fukiyang ’,” he says, referring to two common phrases used in the campaign.
“Another example is how Beijing looked down on foreigners like me,” Wu said. “But I’ve met so many good and respectable Beijing people that it builds mutual respect.” Hexi, “reconciliation,” he says.
Not far away, 24-year-old Hu was sitting in a white raincoat waiting for an electric moped.
He has recently completed his university studies, he says, and at university, everyone should study political subjects, i.e. Mao Zedong’s thought and Marxism, which is also being explored, Hu says.
But when it comes to “socialist fundamental values,” Hu can’t list more than three today before she recovers.
“I definitely don’t measure up as Chinese,” she laughs.
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