President Hu may be getting his way with the government, as it has passed a preliminary agreement to enshrine his Harmonious Society in the Chinese Socialist Thought Hall of Fame, but a student-led campaign to promote a different kind of harmony has fallen flat on its face.
Four Beijing love-children were recently out on the streets of the capital offering "Free Hugs". They held signs with that phrase, and others which read "Say no to apathy" and "Care from strangers". They offered hugs to any passing pedestrians who wanted one. Not many did.
"Free hugs will bring people closer together and make the world more like a big family," said one of the students, apparently right before he was hauled away by police for questioning. The cops said that the huggers did not have a permit "from the proper authorities", whoever that might be. The Ministry of Public Displays of Affection? "It might pose a negative social impact," the police said. Clearly.