China-focused Satire, Social Commentary, Comics and More

Questioning China’s QEDs: CHINESE PEOPLE LOVE “I [heart] China” MERCHANDISE

A new Olympic advertising campaign utilizing a popular American rebus raises questions of appropriateness and objective.

A few weeks ago one of my better high school students approached me and stated innocently, “My teacher say is very fashion in America to wear shirt which say ‘I heart N-Y.'” She stopped and waited as if she had asked a question. I explained what NY stood for and then asked if she knew what the heart meant.

“Teacher say it mean love.”

I told her about the logo’s comeback to pop culture after September 11, 2001 explaining that it was a 30 year-old marketing ploy. She immediately argued because the teachers had made a point of portraying this as cutting edge fashion. I dropped it. You can’t argue with the students when they know, especially if you want to remain in this country.

The students savor these international news segments occasionally proffered by their teachers and generally bring them to us foreigner teachers as quickly as possible for a sort of show and tell more than confirmation.

A couple of weeks later I walked into one of my fifth grade classes to find the room full of red “I [heart] China” head-banded warriors. When the ordinary screaming subsided, I asked them what the English writing meant. Dead silence. Finally, one of the more precocious children said, “In 2008 Beijing will have the Olympic Games,” a memorized line I’d heard many many times before, “of course.” he added.

I nodded, and wrote “I [heart] China” on the board, underneath I wrote “I love China.” I drew a heart on the other side of the board. “What does this mean?”

Dead silence.

I gave up but retained the question, why is it written in English? The Olympic torch passed through our city leaving a flood of “I [heart] China” paraphernalia, old, young, rich, poor, educated and not all wearing this English word puzzle. How many of them, like my Young Pioneers, are clueless to the meaning? To most people in this city the answer is probably similar to that of the question, how many Americans would recognize “I love America” in Chinese characters? Not many.

Another question raised by the high school student’s approach is, why? When the high schoolers are told these aforementioned tidbits they are presented in concise and identical announcements handed down through the chain of command. So, why has the government issued this particular information? What is it they are trying to tell the English speaking world? Is it this?: You [heart] China too.

Leave a Reply