A major city in southwest China has ordered state radio and television to promote the mass study of "red songs", which sing the praises of the ruling Communist Party, official press reported today.

Authorities in Chongqing, which has a population of more than 30 million and is one of four cities on a political par with Chinese provinces, aim to set up a chorus of praise for the ruling party ahead of the 90th anniversary of its founding on July 1, the Chongqing Daily reported.

"Each district, each government department and every enterprise must fully bring into play the special functions of this campaign to get the Chongqing masses to sing red songs," the paper said.

The campaign comes after Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, son of the late Communist revolutionary Bo Yibo, pledged to reinvigorate the city with the Marxist ideals of his father's comrade-in-arms Mao Zedong.

The image of the huge and fast-growing city was sullied by a police crackdown in 2009 that exposed a thriving and rapacious criminal underworld acting with impunity.

During the "red song" campaign, Chongqing citizens are being urged to download 36 tunes from state television websites, while daily newspapers will print a song in each of their editions, the report said.

Chongqing television and radio stations will also play the songs throughout the day, it said.

The campaign is the latest in a "red" push in the megacity. The state-run Chongqing Satellite Television in January set aside popular television shows in favour of programming extolling Communist ideals.

The switch was aimed at "restoring fading red morals" with shows that will "reflect mainstream social values", the report said.

AFP (Sydney Morning Herald, 2011 April 20)