Chinese president Xi Jinping will not be visiting North or South Carolina during his ongoing state visit to the US. But in a slick new propaganda video timed for his visit, Americans from the two states have a strong message for the rest of the US—China is not here to steal your jobs, it is here to save them.
The video is called “When China met Carolina,” and it was released on Sept. 18 to Youtube and emailed to various media outlets (including Quartz). Through a series of folksy interviews with ordinary people, company heads, and professionals in North and South Carolina, it describes how the southern US is benefiting from investment from China.
Over acoustic guitar music and beautiful shots of working class America, Carolinians explain that China and the US share a lot of common ground.
“We all have a dream, whether it’s an American dream or a China dream,” Ty Taylor, President of Greenfield Industries, a tool maker based in Seneca, South Carolina, says in the video. ”We have a chance of getting there together.”
Greenfield and Tides & Times
More than half of the six-minute long video is devoted to Greenfield and its new Chinese owner Top-eastern Group. The world’s largest manufacturer of twist drills from China’s northeastern city of Dalian bought Greenfield in 2009. Top-eastern Group invested $20 million in 2009 to save Greenfield from bankruptcy, a Greenfield executive explains, and since then the company’s employees have grown from 116 to 350.
Employees were concerned about having a Chinese owner, one woman explains, especially after listening to television reports warning of Chinese takeovers. But the company keeps hiring and she still has her job. “It’s like a family atmosphere,” she says. “It’s just been amazing.”
In the second story, the Chinese owner of Tides & Times Group, a lumber and logs shipper headquartered in Charlotte, North California, guarantees his US workers that they will always have a job with the company, “no matter how hard the economy is.”
But who made it?
The video signs off by listing a studio named Fuxing Road, which also means “the road to rejuvenation” in Chinese. There is no official production company named, nor credits for the film-making crew.
The Youtube channel where it appears, called “China Meets America,” was set up by the studio to promote the video overseas, Olivia Rogers, head of publicity for the video, told Quartz via e-mail. The studio is privately funded, she said, and made up of a group of Chinese professionals who want to “get a more true message about China out to the world.” None of those professionals or the companies funding the studio are connected to the Chinese government, she adds.
She would not give Quartz any more details about the film crew or its backers, saying “they have decided to let the film speak for itself.” About 67,000 people had watched it on Youtube by Sept. 21.
The video was also posted on China’s domestic video-sharing platforms, where it has proven a lot more popular. On Youku, one of China’s major video portal, over one million people had watched it by Sept. 21. Chinese state media—including a news site run by the People’s Daily newspaper, the ruling Communist Party’s leading mouthpiece—also picked it up as a good example of “soft diplomatic strategies.”
But those media reports seem content to leave the identity of Fuxing Road Studio a mystery. “No matter whether it’s an official institution or a non-government one, Fuxing Studio’s unadorned and humanized reporting has won likes from ordinary netizens,” the People’s Daily’s news site writes.
Fuxing Road Studio is an experienced hand at producing propaganda for the Chinese Communist Party. The studio also created a video to explain the “Chinese Dream” and the party’s support of it, and a cartoon about becoming president in China and why the process leads to better politicians than in the US or the UK. Both videos are available in Chinese and English, showing the studio’s attempt to target at an international audience, an idea that does backfire at home sometimes.