'Listen to the party': Chinese cities deck out in slogans for anniversary

China is ramping up a propaganda blitz ahead of the 100th birthday of the ruling Communist Party, with banners and billboards around the country reminding citizens to live a “civilised” life and obey authorities.

The world’s second-largest economy has been lauding its achievements in the weeks leading up to July 1, which marks the centenary of the party’s founding in Shanghai.

Large boards with a red-emblazoned “100” showing the Communist hammer and sickle emblem have been hung above retail stores and along busy streets to mark the superpower’s rise.

“Listen to the party, appreciate the party, follow the party,” declares one roadside sign in Beijing.

The Communist Party has more than 91 million members, according to the official Xinhua news agency — many of them grassroots cadres and ordinary civil servants.

Party propaganda is a part of daily life in China, where red banners giving advice, encouragement and official messages are seen on streets all year round.

But public displays have proliferated in recent weeks as the centenary draws near. 

“Build a civilised image everywhere, let’s all be civilised citizens”, reads one banner, against a warm-hued silhouette of families against the capital’s skyline.

Some boards show a portrait of Lei Feng, modern China’s most famous model soldier, whose purported exploits and recognition by former leader Mao Zedong have turned him into a national folk hero. 

Authorities have used his legend to encourage citizens to strive hard, and messages under his visage urge the public to “learn the Lei Feng spirit”. 

Elsewhere at a major downtown street corner in Beijing, a bright red screen is broadcasting a row of People’s Liberation Army troops in helmets, holding bayonets and yelling.

“Raise a new generation of spirited, capable, courageous and morally upright revolutionary soldiers,” the text underneath reads.

China has the second-largest military budget in the world after the US, although Beijing’s defence spending still accounts for less than a third of Washington’s outlay.

Next month’s anniversary celebrations will see the release of a blockbuster film about the party’s founding featuring some of China’s top movie talent.

Key party members will also receive a special medal at a ceremony in Beijing.

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