Send in the Clowns

A mysterious video attempts to explain the Chinese Dream to the world

January 2, 2014
January 2, 2014

A popular online video that purports to explain the “Chinese Dream,” and the Communist Party’s support of it, presents a portrait of China as an “ancient and youthful country,” a land of blue skies and green, green fields, where citizens and foreigners gather together, clapping and laughing, and clowns on motorbikes hand flowers to pretty women.

Screenshot 2014-01-02 11.13.21

The video also notes that China is “growing fast but with development disparities,” and that the country’s opportunities are accompanied by “untold challenges,” illustrated by a coal plant and traffic jams. It concludes: “The Communist Party of China is with you along the way.”

The Chinese Dream video has been circulated and praised by Chinese social media users—but they most likely aren’t the target audience. The video, made in English with Chinese subtitles, appears to be the party’s latest, slickest attempt to explain itself to the broader world, along with more English-language news output, social media from state-run news outlets and giant billboard ads in New York’s Times Square.

The video, created by an unknown auteur and posted on the Chinese video-sharing platform Youku, has been mentioned in an official interview, as the Wall Street Journal notes, “indicating a dose of official support.” Still, its origins remain mysterious.

There is no official production company named, and the name at the end of the video, “fuxinglushang,” could either mean “the road to rejuvenation” in Chinese, or be an indirect reference to a street in Beijing where state broadcaster China Central Television has an office. A popular English-language cartoon about becoming president in China, and why the process leads to more experienced, less compromised politicians than in the US or the UK also cited “fuxinglushang” at the end:

Most Chinese netziens assume the videos were both created by the Communist Party, and many called it a welcome contrast to some of the leaden party advertising of the recent past, like this series of posters with slogans like “Communist Party is good.”

“I think it’s great! much better than shouting out political slogans in their previous propaganda efforts!,” one Sina Weibo user (signup required) wrote. Another declared the video up to an “international standard,” calling it “vibrant and modern, a total breakaway from previous banal tone.”

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