If you hang out in public today / Grass will grow on your grave next year
Illustration by Derek Zheng for SupChina
China is grappling with a coronavirus outbreak that has so far caused more than a thousand deaths and infected more than 43,000 people worldwide (42,670 within mainland China). To curb its spread, the Chinese government has been using everything at its disposal to keep the virus at bay. Methods have included, you might have heard, quarantining multiple cites and employing drones to berate people without masks.
Local officials, however, have tapped into simpler, more traditional means to get their message across — such as red banners with aggressive slogans, the kind that originated during the Mao era.
As a crucial element of China’s political and cultural life, “slogans,” or biāoyǔ (标语), have been around for decades, featuring a wide range of themes such as the importance of family planning and the governing mottos of presidents. The slogans that have emerged during the current epidemic are generally direct and clear — even if they are a little threatening, bombastic, and on-the-nose.
Online, many of them have caused an unexpected reaction: laughter. Here are some of our favorite:
带病回乡不孝儿郎，dài bìng huí xiāng bú xiào ér láng
传染爹娘丧尽天良 chuán rǎn diē niáng sàng jìn tiān liáng
Returning home with your disease will not make your parents pleased,
Infecting mom and dad proves you have no conscience
发烧不说的人，fā shāo bú shuō de rén
都是潜伏在人民群众中的阶级敌人 dōu shì qián fú zài rén mín qún zhòng zhōng de jiē jí dí rén
Those who don’t report their fever
Are class enemies hiding among the people
老实在家防感染，lǎo shí zài jiā fáng gǎn rǎn
丈人来了也得撵 zhàng rén lái le yě dé niǎn
Stay at home to prevent infection,
Turn your in-laws out if they come visit