ÁÎ×Ó¹â HenryC.K.Liu ¹ù¤l¥ú hliu at
Sun Dec 26 19:39:04 MST 1999

SCMP      Monday, December 27, 1999

 Party tries to strip millennium language of Christian overtones

                JASPER BECKER in Beijing

                The Communist Party has issued an edict
                banning the most widely used phrase to
                describe the year 2000 - qianxi nian - or the
                thousand happiness year.

                The party has said it is a Christian expression
                and has no place in an atheist state.

                "We don't use it. There is a party circular
                forbidding its use," said a spokesman for the
                Year 2000 Committee.

                An editorial in the Worker's Daily urged party
                members and especially Government organs to
                avoid using the expression.

                "As a Communist Party member one should
                only believe in Marxism and dialectic
                materialism and not use terms like thousand
                happiness year with a religious connotation.
                No one should participate in any celebrations
                to greet thousand happiness year which could
                affect stability and unity," it said.

                However, the phrase "thousand happiness
                year" is already being used all over the country
                to promote hundreds of products including
                computers, lotteries, toys, calendars and cars.

                The expression was initially promoted by
                Communist Party propaganda to counter
                doomsday fears.

                In several programmes Chinese Central
                Television used the expression in a bid to allay
                fears about the end of the millennium by
                giving the start of the new century an
                optimistic feel.

                At the Nantang Catholic Church in Beijing,
                Father Zhao Jianmin said the expression came
                from the Chinese translation of a Latin word,
                jubileum, which is being used by Pope in his
                appeals for a general amnesty.

                In English, it is jubilee, but it originally comes
                from Judaism and refers to the festival
                celebrated every quarter-century when all
                debts owed by the poor are cancelled and an
                amnesty declared.

                "Christianity adopted the tradition to promote
                forgiveness and reconciliation. That's why
                many Western leaders came up with the idea
                to exempt the debt of poor countries," said
                Father Zhao.

                "It is a religious, not a political term, but I
                think it expresses the common wish for
                happiness and peace."

                The Worker's Daily, citing a dictionary, said
                the phrase refers to the Day of Judgment
                when Jesus Christ would descend and
                establish the kingdom of heaven on earth that
                would last 1,000 years.

                The newspaper also hinted that the decision to
                ban the phrase came directly from President
                Jiang Zemin because he insists on another
                expression - xinde qiannian - meaning new

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