Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mass line for the dead

China's Communist Party seems to have a mass line for the dead as well as the living.

Sweeping Graves the Party Way
Qingming is here, filling our hearts with longing,” read the text message signed by the Ministry of Civil Affairs that popped up, unsolicited, on the mobile phones of many Chinese as the traditional Tomb Sweeping Festival got underway over the three-day weekend, which included a public holiday on Monday.

Qingming, which means “pure brightness,” is an ancient festival when people tend their family graves and perform rituals of ancestor worship. It was reinstated as a national holiday in 2008 after fading away following the 1949 Communist revolution, as the new government discouraged such traditions…

Graves in Babaoshan
[A] slew of media reports… have described or shown images of large-scale “Red Tomb Sweeping” activities at party martyrs cemeteries around the country, including at Babaoshan, the party’s main cemetery for deceased leaders and revolutionaries…

Meanwhile, The Beijing News reported, party members in Beijing have been warned not to construct graves for themselves larger than one square meter.

In a directive titled the “Four Forbiddens” issued on Friday by the municipal party committee office, the newspaper reported, “lavish events,” “superstitious activities,” “chaotic burials and funerals” and “oversize graves” were declared off limits to party members.

The directive is in line with a major campaign by President Xi Jinping to rid the party of corruption, privileges and excesses that are making it unpopular with the people.

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