RE: Stop on green, pass on red!

From: Alain LaBont\i SCT (
Date: Fri Aug 15 1997 - 08:48:57 EDT

A 02:01 97-08-15 -0400, Jian Yang a écrit :
>Roland is right: even during the Great Cultural Revolution, people used
>to use expressions like "to open green lights to capitalism and
>revisionism" when accusing somebody or something, and this, of course,
>was borrowed from the then-in-practice traffic meaning attached to the
>green light. Your friend might have been joking, as it is true that
>during that period the red color had a particularly strong positive
>meaning, to the point that it might have been but quite logic that people
>change the trafic convention to fit it ;-) Such humor is very popular in
>China. But so far as I know, it never has been an official rule.

[Alain] :
I should not have talked about an official rule. It was probably local in
some communities. At this time *anybody* could use the small red book of
Mao to interpret reality in all directions of nonsense (probably beyond
Mao's original intentions). My friend had, as a young teacher, to confess
his sins to his pupils every morning taht one accused him of a "sin"...
Those not liking somebody were accusing him of a sin relatively to the red
book. His grandfather, who happened by chance, to be a train controller
before, during and after the Japanese occupation (i.e. 20 yeasr before the
start of the Cultural Revolution), had to publicly confess his sins of
"collaboration" with the evil.

That one community (apparently many, in China) chose to "stop on green and
pass on red", because that seemed to correct a petit-bourgeois sin to some
poeple who were good marketers in their city, does not surprise me in those
conditions, nor does it scandalize me (evolution is what it is, it is a not
a unique case in history). "The last emperor" may have have lied too, but
Yálin told me he had seen this on occasions in China.

All that ceased overnight, fortunately, with the death of Mao.

But I was not there indeed and I can get no confirmation again from Yalín,
he is in Beijing now (no email!)

Alain LaBonté

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