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China's latest propaganda video features poo jokes and a David Bowie lookalike

The slicky-produced video sees four cartoon characters travel through a mint-green and fuchsia dreamscape atop lily pads.

CHINA’S DRY economic planning has become the latest beneficiary of a makeover from the country’s propaganda machine, with a chirpy theme song complete with a psychedelic music video.

State-run news agency Xinhua posted an animated clip that explained the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan, a national roadmap being discussed by Communist leaders behind closed doors this week.

In the slickly produced three-minute video, four cartoon characters travel through a mint-green and fuchsia dreamscape atop lily pads, China’s Great Wall and a Volkswagen bus.

“If you wanna know what China’s gonna do, best pay attention to the shisanwu,” they sing in the chorus, using the Chinese words for “13-five”, an abbreviation for the forthcoming blueprint.

A rubber duck, disembodied lips, a mix-tape, a disco ball and Albert Einstein all make appearances in the video, with a distinctly 1970s psychedelic aesthetic. Mannequins sporting light bulb and teddy bear heads make appearances too.

Released in English with Chinese subtitles, the song’s rhyming lyrics showcased an uncharacteristically tongue-in-cheek humour.

Among the contributors to the Five-Year Plan, it said: “There’s doctors, bankers and farmers, too, and even engineers who deal with poo!”

Source: New China TV/YouTube

Mysterious studio behind video

The video is attributed to the mysterious Fuxinglushang Animation Studio, which has a history of producing glossy clips for China’s ruling Communist Party aimed at foreign audiences.

Little is known about Fuxinglushang, which could either mean “the road to rejuvenation” in Chinese, or be an indirect reference to a street in Beijing where state broadcaster China Central Television has an office.

A promotional video it made on the “Chinese Dream” – President Xi Jinping’s catchphrase – depicted an “ancient and youthful country”.

The humble people depicted in the video hoped for “a pretty wife” and “bluer skies”, while clowns on scooters handed out roses to smiling young women.

It concluded: “The Communist Party of China is with you along the way.”

In a five-minute 2013 short entitled “How Leaders Are Made”, the studio depicted Xi undergoing training like “a kung fu master” in order to become president, while US leader Barack Obama climbed to power on a mountain of dollars.

'Beginning of the Great Revival' Poster - China A woman walks past movie posters in Beijing advertising the Chinese propaganda film Beginning of the Great Revival, right, and Hollywood movie Kung Fu Panda 2, left. Source: Andy Wong/AP/Press Association Images

Improved production values

But official attempts at capturing the hearts of foreign audiences sometimes fall flat.

In September the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, came out with a short English-language video entitled “Who is Xi Dada?” in anticipation of the leader’s visit to the United States.

Eyebrows were raised as a parade of exchange students extolled him as “handsome” and “cute”.

Even so, production values have improved in recent years. When Xi’s predecessor visited the United States in 2011, a billboard in New York’s Times Square was festooned with pictures of Chinese celebrities unfamiliar to baffled Americans audiences.

By contrast, in the latest film, a cartoon David Bowie lookalike sits atop a dinosaur, rhyming colloquially: “Every five years in China, man, they make a new development plan.”

- © AFP, 2015

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