Chinese state media mocks government officialese

Chinese state media turned on the government's own use of language Thursday, mocking a list of "repulsive" official cliches submitted by social media users.

  • Published: 10/01/2013 at 09:45 PM
  • Newspaper section: news

Former Chinese leader Hu Jintao straightens his glasses as he gives a press conference in Kiev on June 20, 2011. Chinese social media users said Hu's speeches were filled with Communist terminology or references to socialist figures. Chinese state media turned on the government's own use of language, mocking a list of "repulsive" official cliches submitted by social media users.

The public shaming of bureaucrat-speak -- hosted on the microblog of the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily -- came after China's new leaders slammed the culture of long speeches and meetings and urged better governance.

"No speech is not 'important', no applause is not 'warm'," the People's Daily said on its Twitter-like Weibo account, as it poked fun at officialese and invited followers to share the phrases they found most irritating.

"No leader is not 'highly valued', no visit is not 'friendly', no accomplishment is not 'satisfactory', no achievements are not 'tremendous'," it continued.

Commenters ridiculed officials' tendency to give non-answers and criticised tiresome terms thrown around in meetings that dragged on.

"The most common one is 'relevant department'. When it's good news there's a specific department, when it's bad news it's a 'relevant department'," wrote a user named Suzhiqiang.

"The most annoying official-speak is, 'Next I would like to add a few words'... then half an hour later he is still talking'," said another called Arnold.

A user named Romeo provided a template for meetings: "Vigorously do this... Thoroughly do that... Don't do this... Raise high... Speed up... Push forward... Persevere... Guarantee..."

But in turn others derided the effort to put down the officialese.

A poster using the handle "One Who Probes" pointed out: "These official phrases, cliches, empty words, lies, didn't we learn them all from certain newspapers?"

There were around 4,300 submissions as of late Thursday, and a list of comments compiled by a local newspaper was reposted by several outlets, including the state news agency Xinhua.

The publicity around the forum complemented official warnings sounded by the ruling party's new leadership under Xi Jinping, installed in November.

His first remarks as party chief -- a plain-spoken 20-minute address -- contained little of the Communist terminology or references to socialist figures that filled the speeches of his predecessor Hu Jintao.

A few weeks later state media reported the new top brass as urging party officials to put an end to "pointless" meetings, speeches and other time-wasting events.

One user named Dalizhangxiaofan posted: "If officials aren't allowed to speak in cliches and officialese, what else will they have to say?"

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Writer: AFP
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