China / Society

China's altruism role model gets cartoon treatment

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-03-04 15:57

CHANGSHA - Chinese animators have portrayed Lei Feng, a model soldier lauded by the late Chairman Mao Zedong for his altruism, as an adorable big-eyed boy in a new cartoon series.

The publicity department of the municipal Party committee in Changde city, central China's Hunan Province, sponsor of the cartoon production, announced on Tuesday that production of the 26-episode cartoon series has been finished.

The department did not specify when or on which channel the show would be aired, although it is designed for broadcast on TV.

March 5 every year has been designated "Lei Feng Day" after Chairman Mao called upon the nation to "learn from Lei Feng's spirit" in 1963, one year after the soldier died at the age of 22 in an accident while on duty.

Xiong Wenhua, chief designer of the cartoon, said Chinese born in the 1960s and 1970s are very familiar with Lei Feng's life story from his childhood ordeal to his unselfish help for the needy. But his profile is in need of a boost among younger Chinese, hence the cartoon.

"The animated version of Lei Feng is more lively. Through the cartoon series, no preaching is needed for the younger generations to get familiar with Lei Feng's story and learn from his spirit," Xiong said.

On March 5 each year, students mainly from elementary schools in China are mobilized to do voluntary activities such as street cleaning and helping elderly people with daily chores to practice Lei Feng's spirit.

A head-and-shoulders portrait of Lei Feng wearing a red five-star military hat is also a cultural icon popularly printed on T-shirts.

"But if the younger generations don't have any idea of what kind of a person Lei Feng was, what is the meaning of the annual anniversary?" asked Xiong.

He said the big-eyed cartoon image of Lei Feng was drawn after several rounds of voting by experts and teenagers. The cartoon is intended to portray the model soldier as an ordinary boy.

"We hope younger generations can realize through the cartoon that what Lei Feng did in his work and for others were all small matters that could happen around us every day," Xiong said.

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