China’s ruling Communist Party is seeking an image makeover by forbidding the use of hierarchical titles like “boss” in favor of more egalitarian forms of address, according to the weekly iRead.
The Party hopes to restore the term “comrade” — the standard form of address during its revolutionary era — in place of terms like “boss” and “big brother” which have become increasingly commonplace. One reason is that the latter terms have unfortunate associations with criminal gangs and are deemed incompatible with new leader Xi Jinping’s crusade to root out corruption and ostentation.
Unfortunately, during the past two decades “comrade” has its own unpleasant associations with the bad old days of Mao’s Cultural Revolution as well as with the more recent use of the term in reference to gays.
One alternative suggested by the Communist Party is to address one another using nicknames in hopes of creating a lighter, more accessible image for China’s all-powerful government.
A colorful example is the monicker “Toilet Secretary” given to Wei Liucheng, the party chief of Hainan province who in 2010 astutely prioritized the building of many modern public toilets as a key to the future of the southern island’s growth as an international tourist destination.
“Chen Ba-dao”, or “Eight Ways Chen”, is the humorous appellation given to Chen Jianguo, former party chief of Ningxia autonomous region who proposed an apparently controversial road project in 2002.
“Mr Contract” is the nickname of Lou Jiwei, China’s new finance minister because of his fondness for earnest discussions on the role of contracts in the a free-market system.
“Mr Renminbi” is used to refer to Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan after his successful reforms to the currency exchange rate mechanism. Zhou doesn’t care for the nickname, he has told foreign media.
“If it speaks of the renminbi’s influence, then ‘Mr Renminbi’ as a name is inappropriate I think,” he explained, apparently referring to the fact that China’s yuan remains a relatively unimportant currency in global trade. “But if it is because of the reforms in the exchange rate, then it is quite a bad idea,” he added enigmatically.