Chinese sing the songs of Chairman Mao's day

13:49, June 30, 2011      

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Clad in baggy army clothes with a mimicked rifle in hand, Liu Liang stood on the stage and posed for a camera-wielding audience, many of whom are his friends and colleagues at a local taxation office in the land-locked Chinese province of Hunan.

Liu, 24, plays in an opera that features revolutionary communists fighting in a guerrilla war against the corrupt ruling class in the 1930s.

He charms the audience by singing perfectly in tune to a high-spirited guerrilla song popular during the reign of the late leader Mao Zedong.

Red rhythms

Hunan is the birthplace of Chairman Mao. More than three decades after his death, red revolutionary songs such as the one played by Liu have made a comeback in China.

The most widely-sung red songs include "East is Red," "Without the Communist Party, There is no New China," and "Sing a Folk Song to the Party."

Party cells in government agencies, State-owned firms, schools, and residential communities across the country organize red song concerts and competitions, and the most unlikely of individuals, such as monks and nuns, are seen singing red songs in chorus.

In a twist of humor, a micro-blogger called E2Man posted an eye-popping photo of a person dressed as alien singing to a karaoke machine the red song "Return Home After Shooting Practice." Thousands of people followed the post.

The red campaign is launched in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which falls on this Friday. Although independent-minded scholars have questioned whether it is appropriate to organize such "mass campaigns," many campaign participants say they sing to their hearts' content.

"It is a truly different experience, and I feel as if I am being taken into the revolution myself and get really exited," said Liu, the young opera performer.

In the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, where the red campaign was initially mobilized, nearly 100,000 gathered in the city's grand stadium on Wednesday to sing at a ceremony to kick off a nationwide red song competition.

More than 8,000 people, aged from eight to 70, were to compete in 90 groups, according to organizers, which includes the Ministry of Culture. And former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger -- a pivotal figure in thawing US-China relations in the 1970s -- was invited to hear the chorus.

Bo Xilai, Chongqing's party chief and a member of the elite Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, has been seen an enthusiastic promoter for the red song campaign.

In Beijing, offspring of senior Communist revolutionaries held a concert Wednesday to sing in chorus the red songs.
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Source: Xinhua
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