Sep 22

(Letter) Chinese Passport Design and Content– What does it Say about the Government´s Role in People´s Lives

Written by guest on Monday, September 22nd, 2008 at 9:50 pm
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I have a U.S. passport and it is full of strange text and images designed to emphasis the positive aspects of the U.S., many of which are at odds with policy of the Bush regime and indeed the history of the nation´s formation. Much of the design and content of my U.S. passport is meant to be both aesthetic, patriotic and lend an air of ancient authority to the entity that issued it to me (the U.S. Department of State).

At the same time, my passport is a legal document that implies certain obligations and duties that, if not complied with, can result in criminal and civil sanctions (it says so right there on page 5).

The document doesn´t even belong to me– it´s property of the U.S. government.

In the important Information section on page 6, it tells me that while traveling abroad I should “Avoid Violating Foreign Laws and Avoid Becoming a target,” both admonitions that our foreign policy has made almost impossible. It suggest that I “do not wear conspicuous clothing or expensive jewelry, and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards.” And yet it is excess consumption, financial profligacy and bad taste that has come to characterize the majority of U.S. citizens, especially it often seems when they venture abroad.

In short, the document, my official passport, is full of amusing contradictions and ironies.

I was wondering if the Chinese passport is similar. What images does it contain? What text? Quotes? What legal obligations does it imply to the holder? What suggestions are made? How does this all compare to the reality of China today? The role of the government in Chinese society?


Tim Parsa

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