An Email Exchange With A Curious Friend:
Q: Maybe you can explain this to me?
A: I am very glad that you have enquired as to the meaning of this popular nursery rhyme which must seem inscrutable to a foreign aggressor such as yourself. Well you see, under 60 years of the glorious leadership of the Communist Party, China has become a “Harmonious Society.” In fact, everything in New China is just so Harmonious that The People fear to even utter the word Harmonious (héxié). As a result of this, all devoted cadres out of respect to the founder of the theory of “The Harmonious Society”, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, President, General Party Secretary, Paramount Leader, His Serene Harmoniousness, Comrade Hu Jintao, choose to use a near-homophone of “River Crab” (héxiè) in a warm and touching reference to the bounty of fresh seafood to be found every day in every peasant’s iron rice bowl. Some words, phrases, books, films and websites are just too Harmonious for New China and thus need to be Harmonised.
For example, just this very week, the Party harmonised the Chinese page of Google which was acting rather un-Harmonious of late after redirecting their page to Hong Kong to take advantage, as imperialistic aggressors are wont to do, of the much lower standard of living and backward financial system there. As another excellent example (just an example you understand), if you happen to be the Paramount Leader and your son is wanted for questioning over a corruption scandal involving millions of dollars in Namibia, you may simply harmonise the word “Namibia” and your son’s name, (again, just for example: “Hu Haifeng”) and your problem is solved. You see there is no end to the elegant simplicity of the Harmonious Society which is glorified and praised on every street in blazing red banners and large white print.
The Harmonious Society is the most recent of the philosophical outpourings of the enlightened Party Leadership, coming as it does after Comrade Jiang Zemin’s “The Three Represents”. Comrade Jiang’s theory, in a nutshell, is that 3 represents 3, thus solving the greatest mathematical question that has dogged Chinese mathematicians for millennia. Mathematics as you know was invented in China 5,000 years ago and Comrade Jiang’s theory is it’s crowning achievement and envy of the world.
Prior to this was Comrade Deng Xiaoping’s aptly named “Deng Xiaoping Theory” This grand theory of everything is charmingly told in parables about different coloured cats catching mice. “Deng Xiaoping Theory” consists primarily of Free Market Capitalism (which Comrade Deng invented whilst pondering “Chinese Characteristics”). Free market Capitalism is of course no way different or contrary to Marxist Dialectic Materialism, Socialism, compulsory collectivisation, land reform or proletarian revolution, which was all brought seamlessly and without struggle or loss of life to New China in 1949. Furthermore, despite the obvious temptation to do so, not one single high ranking party official was made wealthy as a result of Comrade Deng’s ideas in the last 30 years of “Reform and Opening up”, as they all chose instead to direct all gains to world-class medical care and high wages for factory workers. In fact all Comrade Deng needed to do to inaugurate this essentially communist doctrine was to visit the south of China, utter the words “Open up!”, and it was done; and he was pleased. Another immortal phrase of his, “Open fire!” in 1989, lead to Tiananmen Square becoming very Harmonious indeed. After over 30 years of Deng Xiaoping Theory, New China has become an economic power-house with it’s per-capital GDP now on a par with that of Angola and Namibia. As a result Comrade Deng is fondly remembered by The People and Party cadres alike as a leader of great stature out of all proportion to his physical height.
However the greatest of Theories and the most luminous system of thought is “Mao Zedong Thought.” This, the most lofty system of all Thoughts, is contained in the vast repository of “The Collected Works of Chairman Mao Zedong.” New China’s universities are simply abuzz with discussion, and debate on ‘Thoughts of the Great Helmsman’ and the ‘Mao Zedong Sixiang’ course (which is in no way compulsory or a pre-requisite for graduation) is universally attended. In my time in China, not once did I see a set of these hallowed volumes offered for sale in the many second-hand book dealers in this most bookish of nations. These volumes are the living beating red sun in the heart of every home and none are willing to part with them, not even for ready money. They are passed from generation to generation at each man’s coming of age ceremony at age 35. To be sure, the gaiety of this ceremony is lent a certain charm by the guarantee of the youngster’s first blow-job from a syphilitic karaoke girl and the father-to-son chats about how to impress the ladies with the rakish white socks and black leather shoe combination and summertime underarm rolling up of one’s T-shirt, but the sanctity and pure intellectual delight of the event springs from the gift of these volumes, the very apex of 5,000 years of history.
This immortal collection containing essays on agrarian socialism for beginners, stories about running dogs, calligraphy, great leaps forward in rapid weight loss, how to start a civil war, wife swapping tales from the Jiangsi Soviet, how to craft cute origami paper tigers (invented in China NOT that “small island”, He hastens to add!), tips for dental hygiene, vast reams of poetry and how to make Spicy Hunanese Red Braised Pork dishes on the run (this last for practitioners of guerrilla warfare). Insightful is His Curriculum Vitae from 1976 with only two entries: “Part-time library assistant, Peking University, 1920 – 1922” and “Great Helmsman, 1949 – 1976. There is even a recipe for His favourite cocktail (three parts vodka, one part delicious baijiu), called the “Sino-Soviet Split.” As you can see Mao Zedong Thought is the backbone of the nation, as rigid as His body which to this day lies incorruptible in the great northern capital.
New China, you understand, is a Harmonious Society within and Peace Loving Nation without. The doctrine of “China’s Peaceful Rise” is the golden thread that binds these four great ideologies. Despite un-Harmonious Westerner’s misunderstandings of New China’s essentially peaceful activities since 1949 (such as some irregular troop movements into East Turkestan, Vietnam, Tibet and India, a harmless bit of proxy sparing with the US in Korea, ballistic missiles aimed at China’s Taiwan Province for its own safety and a few youngsters having some fun with the Pentagon mainframe), China loves peace and seeks only Harmony for the world under the inspiration and leadership of the Party, anything less of course would hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.
Unfortunately, I have run out of time to introduce you to some other guiding ideologies of the state such as “The Scientific Development Perspective” and “The Eight Honours and Eight Shames” but I hope you now have food for thought and a desire to learn more. The other creature in that nursery rhyme, The Grass Mud Horse (cǎo ní mǎ) is a gentle play on a common greeting in New China to Western Friends. Your children and grandchildren will be hearing this greeting a lot in the coming years as the People’s Liberation Army will no doubt be required to look after security arrangements in Western Australia’s iron ore mines and coal deposits.
Bye-bye for now.