political slogans

political slogans
China is a country of slogans, which are ubiquitous. What is in a political slogan? Everything, though some may not appear obvious at first sight.
For instance: (1) ‘Practice is the sole criterion to test truth’ (Shijian shi jianyan zhenli de weiyi biaozhun) was not a philosophical proposition, but an ideological weapon used by reformers against conservatives, who were using whatever Mao said to serve their own interests; (2) ‘Building socialism with Chinese characteristics’ (Jianshe you Zhongguo tese de shehuizhuyi) seems vague, but whatever it means, it can be used to break through many dogmatic taboos as long as it is still ‘socialism’ and ‘Chinese’; (3) ‘To give birth to only one child is good’ (Zhi sheng yige hao) is not about women’s health, but a fundamental statement of the one-child policy controlling population growth; (4) ‘Oppose hegemony; maintain world peace’ (Fandui baquanzhuyi, weihu shijie heping) is dialectical, meaning China can say ‘No’ to the USA, but, meanwhile, peace is important for China to obtain Western technology; and (5) ‘Grasping opportunities and developing ourselves’ (Zhuazhu jiyu, fazhan ziji) sounds realistic and diplomatic, but implies that whatever others are saying about and doing to China now, China will have a better say when it is developed. Linguistically, Chinese political slogans are not necessarily short, as electioneering slogans in the West. They can be sentences with or without a subject, as shown in (1) and (2); they can be parallel phrases or sentences without a subject, like (4) and (5); and they can be rhetorical, but empty in content, such as (3).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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