No more "Good evening, viewers." For the first time in years, news anchors are opening government television news broadcasts with the terse greeting, "Comrades."

China Central Television's evening news department said that an order had come from above to use the revolutionary greeting.Its revival is part of a general return to revolutionary slogans and orthodox ideology since last year's massive pro-democracy movement, which the leadership condemned as anti-communist and crushed. Books, movies, newspapers and TV shows now carry pronounced ideological messages.

In the first decades after the 1949 Communist victory in China, "comrade" was the only acceptable way of hailing a shop clerk or waitress or addressing a colleague. But in recent years, "mister" and "miss" - once denounced as bourgeois - have become common and anyone using "comrade" draws stares and laughter.

"Even the anchorpeople laughed the first time" the television news used it, on Wednesday night, said a man who answered the telephone at the news department. He refused to give his name.