PROTEST POP

A corny pop ballad explains in one verse why China is so mad about THAAD

Obsession
China's Transition
Obsession
China's Transition

Chinese people protesting South Korea’s deployment of its THAAD anti-missile defense program have a corny pop ballad to use as their anthem.

On March 8 Chinese pop singer Xie Tianming published a music video (link in Chinese) for a piece titled “Chant of Love.” Using fiercely nationalist rhetoric set to a syrupy synthesizer melody, the singer calls on Chinese people to boycott products made by Lotte, the Korean conglomerate at the center of China’s trade retaliation towards South Korea. The clip has gone viral on WeChat, and racked up over 600,000 views on Tencent Video, a YouTube-esque video site.

The lyrics provide a breezy summary of the THAAD conflict, and while they do provide a clue to China’s fears regarding the defense system, they won’t win any awards for artistry. They read just as clunky in Chinese as they do in English:

This is a call from the heart
This is an expression of love
Danger is heading towards our border
Descendants of the Yellow Emperor must wake up

America wants to deploy THAAD in Korea
They can spy on more than half of China
Lotte makes good money in China
And is providing land to America

Ah, ah

Chinese sons and daughters must stand up
The country can only exist if it is safe

Ah, ah

Everybody, stop buying Lotte products
Make them get out of China fast.

Xie Tianming is not a major pop star in China, though he once served as a guest judge on “Avenue of the Stars,” a singing competition on CCTV, China’s state-owned broadcaster. Quartz reached out to Xie but did not receive a reply.

Public furor in China over THAAD has been brewing over the past several weeks. Chinese government agencies have shut down Lotte shopping centers, and also placed restrictions on Korean video games, tourism agencies, and entertainment groups that do business in China. Chinese citizens, meanwhile, have staged protests against Korea, and Lotte in particular, all over the country. Lotte’s role involved a land-swap with the military that provided a site for the antimissile system.

On Wednesday the US shocked East Asia when it announced it started to deploy THAAD in South Korea, and expected it to be fully operational by April—months before official projections made last year.

It’s not clear if Xie’s song was produced in cooperation with the government. In the past, music videos and viral clips promoting nationalism and pro-party orthodoxy have spread online with the help of state media outlets like Xinhua and the People’s Daily. Xie’s video looks more low-budget than those videos, however, and social media accounts for state media have not promoted it.

Xie’s video captures the sentiment many Chinese people feel towards Korea right now, but there are plenty of others who don’t share it. Last week a poem lamenting all of the targets Chinese people are forced to hate—”On Monday I oppose Korea, on Tuesday, Japan, on Wednesday it’s the Americans,”—went viral on social media.

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