In China, gauging happiness is all the rage

From today’s LA Times:

“The concept of happiness, xingfu, is somewhat alien here, there being no equivalent of Thomas Jefferson, credited with enshrining “the pursuit of happiness” at the same level as life and liberty in the Declaration of Independence. (An exception is one verse of the revolutionary ballad “The East is Red,” which states that “Chairman Mao seeks happiness for his people.”)

But suddenly, happiness is on the tip of every Chinese politician’s tongue. “Everything we do is aimed at letting people live more happily and with more dignity,” Premier Wen Jiabao declared in his New Year’s address to the nation. During the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in March, it came up so often that the official New China News Agency proclaimed, “No doubt, ‘happiness’ is the keyword for the two sessions.”

In Mianyang, Sichuan province, people drop old clothes and coins off Tai Ping Bridge every year to bring happiness and health. Happiness is an elusive concept in modern China.(Reuters / March 24, 2011)


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