State Planning 101: China’s latest soft power grab

Somehow, China’s state media thought this video would be a good way to make the country seem cool and hip:

It’s been described as psychedelic, groovy and Schoolhouse Rock-ish.

The title of the song is, and I have no idea why no one is mentioning it because it perfectly encapsulates the WTF-ery of the song, “Balabala 13.5.”

Now, I know China is making huge efforts to increase its soft power, mostly by trying to appear modern and culturally relevant, despite the whole antagonistic, authoritarian thing it’s got going on. But if it has to resort to manufacturing soft power, it’s clearly doing something wrong. This isn’t even the first video state media have put out, but it is the one causing me the most secondhand embarrassment.

By nightfall of the day of its release, my Chinese friends on Wechat were already sharing articles proclaiming its success overseas, without any apparent awareness of the derision the video was met with.

China, man. Sometimes it’s better to toil away quietly toward your goal than to go viral for the wrong reasons.

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