Sensitive political comments are censored from Chinese websites all the time. Yet one recent video that got the “harmonization” ax appears to be a video paying homage to China’s outgoing leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao through images of the two painstakingly set to the lyrics of a popular love song. Here’s that video translated by Liz Carter, who monitors Chinese social media for the site Tea Leaf Nation.
The Hu-Wen video, featuring the song “It’s a shame it wasn’t you” by the Malaysian Chinese pop singer Fish Leong, was a top trending post on Sina Weibo on March 18 and was also on Chinese video sites Tudou and Youku. It appeared to have been deleted today (March 19), Carter says. The song has been the basis of Chinese internet memes, including political topics. When the creator of China’s censorship system lamented online the death of a Chinese computer scientist last year, Chinese bloggers filled hundreds of pages of his blog with the phrase “It’s a shame it wasn’t you.”
At first brush, the video appears to be a fond farewell to Hu and Wen who formally stepped down this month, a reason why censors left it alone at first. But romantic Chinese ballads set against montages of video footage constitute a sort of genre of Chinese “internet literature,” Carter says, exploring emotions between two people, often male characters in television shows. Slow-motion shots of Hu and Wen smiling faintly, turning towards each other, and grasping each other’s hands could have suggested a romantic link, prompting censors to intervene.
Chinese officials may fear popular dissatisfaction with Hu and Wen, under whose leadership income inequality and pollution have worsened. But it’s possible this video was just the depiction of a simple “bromance” between two leaders, not a political statement. (The real identity of the producer(s) of the video is unknown.) Carter says, “He [or she] probably thinks they were okay leaders, and now that they’re leaving there’s some kind of nostalgia there.”