In Canada, when our government posts a safety notice or warning to the public, it's a sober, matter-of-fact pronouncement.
For example, below is a bilingual notice about radio frequency radiation.
In Zibo, child-like cartoon characters preside over public order and safety. They have Sailor Moon eyes and Donald Duck gloves. Where are the heroic proletariat working heroes of the past with their furrowed brows and callused hands?
I first noticed this in the hotel, on a large fire safety sign posted by the elevator. While our Canadian fire-fighters pose bare-chested for calendars, the Chinese fire-fighter is represented by what appears to be a child driving a toy truck. I'm more reassured by the resolute expression and alert bearing of Smiley Fire Extinguisher, who at least looks old enough to know what he's doing.
Today I spotted another Smiley. One of my colleagues from school was with me and told me that this Smiley official is saluting on behalf of the effort to dispose of garbage and recylables in the proper container. My colleague said that to her recollection, this kind of cartoon government figure first appeared in Zibo about ten years ago.
We speak of the iron fist in the velvet glove, or speaking softly and carrying a big stick, but I'll bet that when you think of government in China, you don't think of infantilized authority figures.