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Authorities Ban T-Shirts With Discontented Messages

July 5, 1991

BEIJING (AP) _ Chinese authorities have banned the sale of T-shirts with discontented messages that were the fashion hit of the summer in Beijing, vendors said Friday.

″Don’t bother me, I’m fed up,″ read the most popular of the T-shirts, which were mainly printed by small, private businessmen and sold at street stalls.

Vendors said officials threatened to fine anyone caught selling or making the shirts, although it was not clear if action would be taken against people wearing them.

″They think it doesn’t look good to foreigners,″ one vendor explained.

The T-shirts appeared in Beijing in early June, around the anniversary of the June 3-4, 1989 army attack on pro-democracy demonstrators that ushered in a new, conservative era.

None carried overtly political messages, but all expressed boredom or discontent, conflicting with the official image of China’s happy masses working together to build socialism. The ban on their sale reflected the leadership’s sensitivity to the slightest challenge.

All the shirts vanished Friday from a major market on Xidan Avenue in central Beijing, where hundreds were displayed only a few days ago.

But so far, authorities have taken no action against another hot new item: shorts with red, white and blue stars and stripes, copied from the American flag.

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