Reuters/China Stringer Network
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FEEL THE BEAT

China’s military has released a rap video in order to lure more recruits

By Josh Horwitz

China’s military is turning to rhymes and beats in order to bring in fresh talent.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) released an online recruitment video last Thursday that resembles a hip-hop music video. Titled “Battle Declaration,” the song emphasizes over a throbbing beat the honor one receives upon joining China’s armed forces.

It begins as a soldier dons his uniform, while a loud-voiced narrator hypes up the track:

There is always a mission on your mind.
There is always an enemy in your view
There is always responsibility on your shoulders
There is always passion in your heart
War could erupt any time
Are you ready?

A rapper then starts expounding on the challenges and merits of joining the PLA, over images of tanks, planes, and soldiers.

The song’s chorus is more morbid than one might expect from an army recruitment video—it opens with a reference to getting shot.

Even if a bullet passes through my chest
My mission remains carved in my heart
Brothers, let’s follow this path
[Roar! Roar! Roar! Roar!]
Roar with animal spirit
Look to the bravest general of them all
Walk from here toward the site of combat

Even if a bullet passes through my chest
My mission remains carved in my heart
From the center to the borders
Let’s go to war, let’s fight to win
When we follow the commands of the party
The country honors our guardianship
The rising head of a loyal patriot
If I don’t bear the burden, who else will?

Over the past year, Chinese government agencies have released similar online videos touting certain aspects of state policy.

In December state-affiliated broadcaster CCTV released an animated rap video extolling the virtues of president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. In April, China’s ministry of public security released a set of videos warning citizens about the dangers of spies—depicted as American superheroes.

A PLA spokesperson told state media outlet China Daily that the video marks an attempt to attract younger recruits, and also dismiss any notions that the army doesn’t stack up against other countries in technological prowess. Displaying rockets and fighter jets, it aims to show “the PLA is no longer the poorly equipped one that they saw from TV dramas, but a powerful force as modernized as the United States military.”

The PLA, which is estimated to consist of over 2 million personnel (it releases no official figures on its size) has long faced difficulties recruiting and retaining top talent. According to China Military Online, the PLA offers some of the lowest salaries of any forces in the world. A 30-year career colonel in the US army makes a monthly salary of about $10,000, while an equally experienced Chinese member would make between 8,000 and 9,000 yuan (between $1,236 and $1,390). For aspiring white-collar workers or even blue-collar workers, it will take more than solid rhymes to get them to join.