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Legend of Lei Feng Cheapened by Advertising Stunt
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A restaurant in Nanjing using the image of Lei Feng, Mao's model of the ideal soldier, as a poster has triggered debate as China prepares for the hero's commemoration day on Monday.

Lei Feng was a soldier under Mao Zedong who died in an accident in 1962. The 22-year-old was hailed as a paragon of virtue after being hailed by Mao for having served the people with hs heart and soul and inspiring the nation. Mao called upon the Chinese people to "learn from Comrade Lei Feng" following his sacrifice. Lei Feng's place in history was thus cemented as he was immortalized as an emblem of selflessness and devotion.

According to local reports, the Nanjing restaurant's boss is using Lei Feng as a poster to symbolize the qualities of northeastern China, the place where Lei Feng served in the army. This fresh controversy follows that caused by the pop song, "We're all Living Lei Feng".

Waiters and waitresses from the restaurant were quoted as saying their boss was passionate about Lei Feng, often telling them "we northeasterners are living Lei Fengs". For this reason, an original black-and-white photo of Lei Feng has been used replicated as the restaurant's sigil, accompanied by a vertical calligraphy, claiming "All northeasterners are living Lei Fengs".

However, the restaurant's effort, which the boss vehemently denies is to attract more customers, has sparked controversy. A retired teacher attacked the move, on the grounds that it desecrates the spiritual model and insults social morality. However, youthful opinions seemed to saw the other way as another young man said the poster helped remind people of the "spirit of Lei Feng" and was thus useful.

An official from Nanjing stressed there are no grounds at the moment to deem the restaurant's act illegal since no detailed regulations exist governing the use of Lei Feng's image.

(CRI.cn March 6, 2007)

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