A madlib speech from Hu Jintao on China’s big day
On the day of China’s big 60th anniversary parade, the Beijing sky was bright blue — thanks to some strategic short-term factory shut-downs and and a fleet of 18 aircraft equipped with rain-clouds disperal chemicals. The female militia units, clad in red mini-skirts and go-go style white boots, goose-stepped to perfection. The procession of nuclear ...
On the day of China’s big 60th anniversary parade, the Beijing sky was bright blue — thanks to some strategic short-term factory shut-downs and and a fleet of 18 aircraft equipped with rain-clouds disperal chemicals. The female militia units, clad in red mini-skirts and go-go style white boots, goose-stepped to perfection. The procession of nuclear missiles, some capable of striking Washington, went off without a hitch. China sure can put on a stellar parade.
And President Hu Jintao’s ten minutes speech …. yawn. He gave no clues as to new directions or aspirations for the country, the economic or environmental crossroads China now finds itself at, his proposed solutions or looming questions. Riveting excerpts include:
The development and progress of New China over the past 60 years fully proved that only socialism can save China and only reform and opening up can ensure the development of China, socialism and Marxism …
Today, a socialist China geared to modernization, the world and the future has stood rock-firm in the east of the world.”
It might seem odd to American audiences that Beijing’s political elite would put more apparent energy into enforcing a pigeon ban within a 125-mile radius of Tiananmen Square, than into prepping the Chinese president for his 10 minutes in the global spotlight — a chance to make a big statement about China’s place in the world at this significant milestone.
At Washington Monthly magazine, where I previously worked as an editor, my boss was Paul Glastris, a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton. After every State of the Union Address, a swarm of foreign news outlets, such as the BBC, would call him to dissect the meaning of particular presidential turns of phrases, exploring how each speech measured up in the canon of great presidential oratory.
But expectations are radically different in China. One of the results of a political system that doesn’t hold elections is that its political leaders aren’t required to kiss babies, craft compelling personal narratives, or learn how to inspire the public with speechs that exhalt the spirit or signal new directions for the country.
In a sense, public speeches in China are a bit like Madlibs; the major nouns (dates, names, countries) are duly swapped out, but the essential structure and enduring slogans remain the same.
Feng Li/Getty Images
More from Foreign Policy
At Long Last, the Foreign Service Gets the Netflix Treatment
Keri Russell gets Drexel furniture but no Senate confirmation hearing.
How Macron Is Blocking EU Strategy on Russia and China
As a strategic consensus emerges in Europe, France is in the way.
What the Bush-Obama China Memos Reveal
Newly declassified documents contain important lessons for U.S. China policy.
Russia’s Boom Business Goes Bust
Moscow’s arms exports have fallen to levels not seen since the Soviet Union’s collapse.