The Keywords of Beijing


Air China does a regular route from London to Singapore with a fairly long stopover in Beijing, so on our recent trip to Singapore we decided to stop over in Beijing. Get ready for the grimness! As we entered Beijing, we were greeted by the cheerful illuminated signs welcoming us to our 72 hour visa-free transit. STAY 72 HOURS GAIN 3000 YEARS! It was somewhat unclear whether we were really gaining 3000 years of culture – or about to age 3000 years from 72 hours of pollution.


At the airport they had a reminder to their exiting Chinese citizens that they “represent the image of China once they step out of the country’s doors”….


We obtained Airport Express passes, which claimed to be “Linking the Green Land to the Blue Sky”…



… which as was to be expected, was neither very green, nor very blue, but at least not as bad as we had expected, considering we arrived the day after the “airpocalypse” of 15 Jan. It appears that after international media picked up the news about pollution hitting over 600 PSI (which is so ridiculous I cannot even describe it), they must have immediately turned off all the bacon factories or something like that.


I was very amused by signage which sometimes didn’t come as carefully phrased exhortations or call-to-actions, but instead in the form of lists of words, such as this list of Core Societal Values (社会主义核心价值观). Over these temporary hoardings they could have put any other extraneous decorative image, but instead (and without explanation) there was a list of words such as Prosperity! Democracy! Civilisation! Harmony!…


Outside some attractions such as the Yonghegong monastery, there were also other lists of values. This one reads: Freedom! Equality! Impartiality! Law! Patriotism! Commitment! Honesty! Kindness!


Another smattering of floating words on another advert frequently seen on the subway for 中国梦-地铁梦 (The Chinese Dream / The Rail Dream)… Power! China! Highspeed progress! Subway!…

Besides these keyword lists of Beijing, there was a series of fire prevention posters which featured a blue sky, two turtle doves soaring alongside messages of the dangers of fire – all rather shonkily photoshopped together.


Small independent reporting device
Alerts you to fires in middle of night


Theft-prevention window grills should have openings
Allowing for more escape routes during a fire


“Little Sun” heaters may combust
Keep a safe distance from them


During a fire saving lives comes first
Don’t go back for valuables and money


My favourite of the lot had to be this one, which involved a rather pixelated computer and phone if you look at it up close, whereas the vector lines of the sign are crisp and clear.


Devices should be charged with suitable batteries
Once charged immediately disconnect


One more sign I really liked was this illustration of the stoic visage of a hardworking worker in a helmet, gazing handsomely into the distance.

And one last oddity from Nanluoguxiang in Gulou – a formidable looking sandwich:


“Malaga fort nuclear powered submarines”

(Thanks to Biin for taking us around on our ONE NIGHT IN BEIJING!)