China Top Brand and Nazi SS Logos

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  "China Top Brand" Logo Resembles that of Nazi SS?  By Tan Renwei (谭人玮).  April 27, 2007.

[in translation]

On April 24, the <Time> magazine's Hong Kong correspondent Austin Rarmzy posted an essay at The China Blog about how he thought that the logo for "China Top Brand" resembled that of the Nazi Waffen-SS troops.  Actually, ever since the "China Top Brand" was introduced in 2001, people have raised this doubt without getting any reaction.  The logo designer Li Hongbing was interviewed at his company by our reporter and said that this was about the self-confidence of the Chinese people and should not be altered.

Earlier this year, <Time> magazine started The China Blog with four of their China correspondents as the bloggers.  On April 24, Hong Kong-based correspondent Austin Ramzy wrote this attention-grabbing headline "SSales Pitch" on The China Blog.

In the essay, Austin Ramzy said that he was watching television in a coffee shop.  When the "China Top Brand" logo appeared, he immediately thought of the logo of the Nazi Waffen-SS.  "Now, I don't think the folks that hand out the Top Brand designation, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, are trying to push a Nazi agenda. Odds are they have no idea of the similarity. But given that the award is supposed to strengthen Chinese brands for promotion at home and abroad, they might want to rethink their imagery. I can only guess what the folks strolling a showroom floor in Europe or North America will think if they see an S.S. slapped on the side of a washing machine."

Netizens then made comments to the blog post.  Some people thought that this was due to the difference between eastern and western cultures.  Westerners are sensitive to the "SS" logo but the Chinese people do not have that concept.  Therefore, there is no need to make a big deal out of it.  Other people think that this logo could hurt the feelings of some people, and it is therefore inappropriate for it to appear on certain top Chinese brands that could be exported.

Actually, someone had publicly stated his doubts about the China top brand logo in 2005.  Doctor Zhu Weiyi, who has studied Germany in depth, had discussed this in detail on his blog.

In May 2006, Zhu wrote in the essay <The shocking sight of the "China Top Brand" logo>: 

I saw this logo for the first time in 2003.  At the time, I was driving along the East Third Ring road with a German friend.  As we were ready to pass a public bus that was ready to make a stop, the circular logo for the China Top Brand came into view.  The sight stunned both of us.  After recovering from the shock, the German said: "SS!"."

His essay also presented the origins of the SS logo: "The Nazi party troops are named Schutzstaffel, which is abbreviated as SS.  When designing the logo for the Nazi party troops, the designer Walter Heck morphed the letters SS into double lightning rays.   In northern European mythology, the lightning ray represented victory and conquest.  In the Nazi concept, the two lightning rays represented the abbreviation of the Schultzstaffel as well as the double political and military victory."

Recently Zhu also wrote in this blog about a German friend Max who offered Yanjing beer to his parents.  When his father saw the China Top Brand logo, he pulled a long face and Max understood immediately.  He told Zhu: "How can the logo that represents Chinese quality be so rashly decided upon?  I hope that you better not put this logo on your export products.  There are plenty of big Jewish business people around the world.  Any one of them who sees this logo will object vehemently to it."

The designer of the China Top Brand logo is the famous designer Li Hongbing and he is presently working at the Yizheng Image Design Limited Company in Shenzhen city.  The reporter was unable to interview Li directly, but a company spokesperson told the reporter: "The China Top Brand logo is obviously using the Chinese character for 'famous' or 'top.'  Why is it being compared to a Nazi SS logo?  This is a waste of time; there is no need to hype this one up.  If we don't even have enough self-respect and self-confidence for this piece of popular culture, then we are finished as a people!  This is too sad, too pathetic!

In the official interpretation of "China Top Brand," the so-called "SS" logo actually represent four arrowhead-shaped objects that symbolize economic development.  Together the objects formed the character  (=fame) in 中国名牌 (China Top Brand) as well as the character (=quality) in 品评名牌 (Quality Top Brand).  The four arrowheads also represent four Arabic number one's, which symbolize the four quality standards, the four evaluation criteria, the four concepts and the four evaluation principles necessary to become a China Top Brand."

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