The China Daily carried the shocking news on page one this morning:
Early this week, reported the paper, the Beijing Public Transport Group was introducing some changes to its rules on how its service people should address passengers. Except for rare cases, such as senior citizens, the term "Comrade" would no longer be used. Instead men and women would be addressed as "Sir" and "Ma'am", and children would receive the less formal, gender-neutral salutation "Little Friends". Yet another nail, commented columnist Raymond Zhou, in the coffin of conformism and defunct idealism.
Zhou goes on to explain the latest change in usage of the word:
Then there is the new meaning first used in Hong Kong and Taiwan and now widely accepted among the young in the rest of the country. "Comrade" has been the adopted name for gays and lesbians, first as a euphemism and now the most generic term (but rarely in addressing). This poses a big headache to the Net nannies who have their hearts set on eradicating every trace of homosexuality from the Web. (They equate homosexuality with pornography.) If every webpage with "tongzhi" is blocked, that essentially wipes out the history of the Communist Party.Clearly in this new world of capitalist communists nothing is sacred.