[Meanwhile] The color of China

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[Meanwhile] The color of China

The author is the head of the China Institute of the JoongAng Ilbo and CEO of China Lab.

Colors in China are divided into primary and secondary colors. The primary colors include red, blue, yellow, white and black. Secondary colors are the mixed primary colors. The most liked color in China is definitely red. While red means danger and urgency in the West, it is a symbol of wealth and prosperity in China. Good luck and celebrations are expressed with red, and banquet restaurants are also decorated in red.

As Chinese people believe that red brings good luck, they dress children in red. For New Year’s Day, cash is given in a red envelop. As red is used as a symbol of progressiveness and advancement in modern political movements, the Chinese Communist army is called the Red Army. The Chinese hackers are called Hongker, or red hackers.

But at the end of last year, a white wave challenged China. Chinese people opposing the zero-Covid policy protested with blank sheets of A4 paper. Though they were not red in color, the Chinese police and citizens knew what they meant. It was a silent cry: “Give us freedom, not lockdowns.”

White symbolizes misfortune, bad omens and death in ancient China. The political meaning of white is “surrender” in both the East and the West. In China, defeated soldiers changed into white clothes and surrendered. At the end of World War II, the U.S. troops advanced to Germany, and German residents hung white bedsheets on their windows as a sign of no resistance.

But this time, the Chinese people ironically expressed their anger with the color of surrender. The result was a huge success. The lockdown policy that lasted three years has been lifted. Now, the recognition that the white paper protest was effective spreads among the Chinese. Last month, a number of medical schools in China held rallies to protest low wages and treatment. The white paper movement is said to have brought a political awakening in China.

In fact, the color white also symbolizes the beginning. The Chinese letter for white is a hieroglyphic character. With one stroke sticking out of the character for the sun, it symbolizes sunshine. When God created the world, the first thing he ordered was, “Let there be light.”

Nevertheless, the fundamental color in China is still red. In the new year, the world is watching to see if the white wave in the sea of red will end up as a storm in a teacup or spread like a wildfire in the field. There are unusual signs. We have been hearing news since the beginning of the year that the Chinese clash with the police in defiance of the banned fireworks across China.
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