The programme “New Year’s Kowtow to Mother Fatherland” (给祖国母亲拜大年) ends tomorrow. Jointly overseen by the Central Spritual Civilization Bureau, the Ministry of Education, the Central Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, the Communist Youth League and the All-China Women’s Federation and timed for the PRC’s 60th Spring Festival, the initiative specifically targets “the broad masses of netizens” (广大网民). In particular, the participation of students at all kinds of educational institutions is mandated by a notice of the Ministry of Education.
According to the notice, the purpose of the activity is to “congratulate the great Fatherland, thank Mother Fatherland, increase national cohesion by concentrating sentiments of patriotism and gratitude to the Fatherland.” In order to achieve this, schools and universities are supposed to have asked students to collect texts about and images of auspicious symbols, New Year’s couplets and SMSs, as well as folk customs. The Web pages that collect these are supposed be organised around six themes: (1) kowtowing to majestic mountains and rivers, (2) to the Yellow Emperor, Emperor Yan and the ancestors, (3) to the heroes of past generations, (4) to revolutionary martyrs, (5) to heroes and models, (6) to the multitudes of common people.
The sleight of hand with which this directive combines traditional imagery, racial and revolutionary symbolism and the continued commitment to “common people” into a single state cult is remarkable, as is the fact that it specifically targets Internet users. Parents and schools apparently saw it as an additional burden to deal with over the holiday.