Beijing having bad hair day

So many things making China’s leaders frazzled right now.

First there’s Protestant Christianity. China’s rulers have long seen this as a Western plot – they suspected missionaries of using children’s eyes as medicine in the 19th century, and expelled the Rhenish and Elsie Elliot Tu to Hong Kong in the mid-20th. Now they want to Sinicize the faith by removing its ‘foreign characteristics’.

Where do they start… Sexual repression? Golf-playing? Putting the toaster in the cupboard? Not the famous ‘work ethic’, surely. According to the report, Reformation with Chinese characteristics will involve messing with liturgy (which is what leads to Pentecostal snake-handling), sacred music (out with Amazing Grace, in with The East is Red), church architecture (which frankly, in the Mainland, can be pastiche-European horrifying), and clerical clothing (out with dog-collars, in with something brighter). Plus, of course, a rewrite of the Bible (do they know how long that takes?)

The Communist Party thus hopes to counter subversion from foreign infiltration and ‘private meeting places’ (which sounds like some sort of Protestant hang-up). It could be worse.

The Catholics, of course, are making their own arrangements to be more CCP-friendly.

Then there’s that other terrible threat to the Glorious Motherland – dyed hair. (Obviously, not a la Jiang Zemin: as Henry Ford would have said if he were a stylist, you can have any colour you want so long as it’s Zhongnanhai Black.) TV shows are digitally enhancing broadcasts to tone down young artists’ wacky hairdos, apparently as part of a campaign against ‘strange styles and lack of aesthetic sense’.

When and how do these ideological reforms hit Hong Kong?

With Mainlandization, the scope for Hong Kong to be different from the rest of the country should be narrowing not widening. Protestants of the colonial Anglican, dull mainstream and wacko Evangelical persuasions are all active here, with adherents throughout the local pro-Beijing establishment. Can they keep their traditional Baptist and Methodist preaching and hymns when their brethren across the border are banging gongs and divining oracle bones in praise of the Party? And – truly scary – what becomes of the city if Beijing decides to rectify Hong Kong’s ‘strange styles and lack of aesthetic sense’?

 

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2 Responses to Beijing having bad hair day

  1. old git says:

    Die Botschaft Gottes was Adolf Hitler’s version of The Bible because the Lutheran Church’s version contained far too many positive comments about Judaism.

  2. Would the real Western plot against China please stand up says:

    If the West had really wanted to mess with China, they’d have got some ruling-class lads to invent a political movement for “the workers” that sounds legitimately well-meaning enough to capture the hearts of middle-class students, but actually ends up in a systemically corrupt imperialistic military dictatorship. These dictatorships would keep backward places backward for longer, kill millions and millions of the population, suppress human rights and leave most of the population trapped in a miserable life, whilst also ensuring the adopters’ countries can be exploited by the ruling classes in the West rather longer than if they didn’t adopt this western ideology.

    They wouldn’t muck about with religions: too messy and unpredictable.

    But you try getting the Communist Party of China to admit that it is their bourgeois Western ideology that is the real Western plot to destroy China, not religion. They won’t listen — something about vested interests, apparently.

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