In our first story on slogans, our friend Andy McEwen said that he hadn’t seen many practical or specific slogans – merely abstract exhortations to love the mother country and so on. And we were compelled to agree. Chinese wall slogans are interesting for what they reveal about the government’s priorities, but they don’t make for especially enlightening reading.
There’s a first time for everything, though, and recently we came across a few slogans we have no trouble getting behind.
This first one reads “Protect the Great Wall, love Zhongwei.” A bit insipid, perhaps, but you can’t really disagree with the sentiment.
It also alludes to an interesting episode in recent Great Wall history. In September 1984, Deng Xiaoping launched a political campaign known by a slogan almost identical to the one above – “Let us love our country and restore the Great Wall.” The campaign had its practical side, and huge sums of money have been spent in the decades since restoring the wall (sometimes quite clumsily) and establishing tourist facilities. Just as importantly, the government began promoting the Great Wall as one of the foremost symbols of contemporary China, a use that continues today.
This symbolic importance, along with the wall’s very real heritage value, explains why, in the words of this slogan, “Damaging the Great Wall will be punished severely according to law.” What that punishment might be is left unstated, but it doesn’t sound good.
And what kinds of damage might the sloganeers be worried about? According to the third slogan, “Digging, removing sand and construction within 50 metres of either side of the Great Wall are strictly prohibited.”
Incidentally, just last week Hongji Landbridge Investment Development Inc, a Chinese company, was fined 500,000 yuan ($63,000 US), for demolishing sections of the Great Wall in Inner Mongolia for a highway project (see “It could be Greater with a road right about here”). The fines were levied under the new national regulation protecting the Great Wall along its entire length (see Great Wall Gazette, Vol. 1, No. 1).