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COMMUNISM ROCKS

China’s churning out hip-hop propaganda videos to win over young people

By Siyi Chen

Check out these modern-day propaganda videos produced by China’s state-run media. You just might find yourself humming along. And that’s the whole point.

The government is trying to do a better job of engaging young Chinese via its propaganda machinery. In 2013, president Xi Jinping gave a speech in which he urged the country’s communist party to find new ways to command the attention of young people and win their loyalty. Soon after that speech, these kind of videos began to pop up on television and social media. They’re aimed at a generation that has grown up listening to American hip-hop and watching slick Hollywood movies. Although the videos are pretty basic in terms of production values, they are catchy.

It’s still questionable, however, how much of their political message actually gets through.

“I think it’s important not to overestimate the impact of these videos,” said Alec Ash, who writes about young Chinese. ”I like to think of them as a part of the background noise in China. It’s easy to dismiss them or treat them cynically,  but at the same time, it’s there in the background all the time.”

“They perhaps encourage a certain type of thinking,” he adds, “that it’s just the way things are and there’s no other way.”