Chinese state TV fights for Xi’s right to rule via rap

Beijing, December 30

China’s state television broadcaster has proved a poor match for rap giants Public Enemy, Snoop Dogg and Tupac, with Internet users today slamming a cartoon video it released to get people revved up about government reform.

Rapping about the “Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms” was probably always going to be a challenge.

President Xi Jinping gets a starring role in the video, put out by CCTV for the second anniversary of the high-level government committee, which he leads.

Xi repeatedly appears at a podium as it samples his speeches to a decidedly tinny beat, while clip-art mountains and thumbs-up signs pop up PowerPoint-style against a plain blue background.

“Let the people’s expectations become our actions,” Xi declares. “Hold high the sword of fighting corruption.”

The lyrics of “The Reform Group is Two Years Old” laud its work in areas including the anti-graft drive, pollution, reform of state-owned enterprises, building infrastructure, and even the yuan’s entry into the IMF currency basket.

Singer Wu Wenduo — an in-house CCTV music producer who has 29 followers on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo — raps: “The reform group is two years old; in these two years it’s done quite a lot. Flies, tigers and big foxes, caught, caught, caught, caught!” He adds: “Administer the party strictly, govern through rule of law, the nation rejoices in delight!”

But online reception was mostly hostile, with commenters condemning the song’s self-congratulatory laundry list of accomplishments in the face of unresolved social problems.

“Why is it that I feel news these days only reports the good and none of the bad?” asked one user on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.

Another added: “Smog and hazy weather, ordinary goods’ prices doubling, wages stagnating — the people are in dire straits.” The song follows other recent attempts at musical messaging by Communist propagandists.

China’s dry economic planning was given a chirpy theme song complete with psychedelic music video in an animated clip posted by state news agency Xinhua in October.

In that slickly produced three-minute clip, which went viral, four cartoon characters travelled through a mint-green and fuchsia dreamscape atop lily pads, China’s Great Wall and a Volkswagen bus, singing in English about the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan.

Yet only some 800 users had viewed CCTV’s rap video on popular platform Sina even three days after its posting.

“Bugger off and go do some real work,” said one user, addressing the reform group on Weibo.