Distilling Beijing Spirit: Patriotism, Innovation, Inclusion, Virtue

Patriotism, innovation, inclusion ... but where's the virtue?

If you haven't yet entered our six-word writing competition, you really better get your literary thinking hats on. We don't want any old garbage – and we'd prefer a prose-like sextet rather than six random words – but there's no reason why you can't come up with something decent before the contest closes at 9am on Thursday, February 16.

Sometimes all it takes to spur yourself into action is to see others making a mess of it. Did you know that officials in Beijing recently unveiled four words that supposedly best capture the essence of "Beijing spirit"?

The "Beijing spirit" campaign was launched last autumn "as part of the latest effort to promote socialist core values." A combined 2.9 million Beijingers voted on Sina.com, Sohu.com and by mail. So what four words did they select as epitomizing the spirit of Beijing?


Posters and neon-lit signs seem to be popping up around town now advocating the "Four Spirits" (as I assume they'll be called in Chinese), complete with images of beaming families, presumably brimming with "Beijing spirit," like these guys below.

There's a spirited family

We even ran an in-office survey and asked our colleagues to nominate words to characterize their notion of "Beijing spirit." The staff came up with 89 different words, but reducing those down to the most popular four, we can proudly define our version of "Beijing spirit" (the Beijinger spirit?) as:


Other strong performers included "civilized," "contradictory," "crowded," "enthusiastic," "expensive," "fast-paced," "inclusion," "opportunity" and "tolerant," while at the more cynical end of the game we had "crass," "robotic," "godless" and "wannabe." Only one person recognized innovation as having anything to do with the spirit of Beijing.

We know you can dream up lists of adjectives until you're blue in the face. That's why we're expecting better of you with our six-word writing competition. No lists. We want six words strung together to create pure poetry, Beijing-style. But as a very great man once said, "You've got to be in it to win it."

Email your entries to sixwords@thebeijinger.com before 9am on Thursday, February 16.

If you need a reminder of the great prizes you can win from us and our friends at The Bookworm International Literary Festival (BLF) ...

  • First Prize: A ticket to a BLF writing workshop of your choice plus two invites to the BLF VIP cocktail party
  • Second Prize: Two tickets to "SLAM!" featuring Luka Lesson & Tim Clare (9pm on Saturday, March 17 at 2 Kolegas)
  • Third Prize: Two tickets to the Beijinger's "Pop-Up Magazine" event (8pm on Friday, March 16 at The Bookworm)

Photos: Flickr user Munkeyspasm and Iain Shaw


Patriotism AND Inclusiveness?

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