“China on the way”…to another PR flop

Posted: January 24, 2011 in media
Tags: , , , , ,

The Chinese government just released an extended 17-minute promotional video entitled “China on the Way” which can be seen here. After all the criticism of the 1-minute video playing in Times Square, the extended video is an improvement in that it contains more than just people standing around. To its credit, it actually shows diverse scenery and cultural Chinese scenes while focusing on common people rather than celebrities.

But like the shorter PR video, this one seriously neglects its target audience and runs more like a domestic propaganda film. It’s packed with questionable, misleading, and outright false statements accompanied by a lot of subtext praising the Chinese government and nipping standard foreign criticisms of China in the bud. These are a few of the claims from the video that stuck out.

“Chinese people know that our beautiful country and children’s future are too high a price to pay for economic development”

Maybe Chinese people know that, but it’s certainly not reflected by China’s top leaders with statements like “economic development is China’s top priority.” Refusal to submit to binding carbon emissions reductions and join international environmental treaties take a bit of credibility away from this statement.

“People can transform from poverty to riches in a single day, but it will never change the respect and love between people”

You only have to spend a few months in China to realize how absurd this statement is. It’s a standard mantra in China that a man must have a car and a house to even be considered by a woman for marriage. Ask a group of Chinese people who they admire most, and you’ll almost certainly hear Bill Gates named. There’s a direct correlation between how much money a person has and how much love and respect they receive in any country, but this is  especially true in China. The Chinese themselves are usually quick to admit that. Apparently the government is trying to shed the country of the materialistic image it’s gaining.

“While celebrating China’s 60th anniversary, the government demonstrated the value of thrift”

What?! Here’s a few pictures from the celebration which illustrate that thrift:














The government spent a “frugal” $44 million on the National Day Parade. This was allegedly scaled back from an original budget of $2.3 billion in the wake of the financial crisis. So by using price anchoring that would make Steve Jobs jealous, maybe it would be fair to call the celebration a demonstration of thrift. After all, it was less than half the $100 million spent on the Olympic opening ceremony.

“In Beijing, migrant workers’ children have their own special educational arrangements”

There’s not much you can criticize about this statement in terms of accuracy. Migrant children certainly do have their own “special educational arrangements.” These arrangements include not being allowed to step foot in the high-quality public schools reserved for children holding a Beijing Hukou. The video shows this classroom:

But in reality migrant schools usually look look more like this: Only about 20% of these schools in Beijing are even sanctioned and legal. The rest rarely, if ever, get any funding from the government. While the statement about migrant children having a “special educational arrangement” is technically true, it’s laughable that it was included in a promotional video.

“Minorities enjoy relative liberal regulations allowing them to pass their unique heritage on to children. Such freedom adds to our cultural diversity.”

“Relative liberal regulations”? What does that even mean? Are they trying to say that their regulations are only liberal compared to the regulations on the Han majority? Maybe that’s true…unless you count the millions of Buddhists who are prohibited from even having a picture of one of their most sacred leaders.

“Around 900 million people in the Chinese countryside enjoy village voting rights. The world applauds such training for democracy.”

It’s possible that the 900 million figure is accurate…maybe.  But the second sentence is again quite laughable. The outside world is the audience of this video and they’re being told what they think. Clearly this thinking includes a mental standing ovation toward China for stumbling along on it’s democracy training wheels.

“We spend less on food and drinks in daily life and we pay more attention on the enjoyment of spiritual life and personal accomplishment”

This isn’t only funny because of the recent rapid inflation of food prices in China, but because the phrase is taken verbatim from Chinese school textbook propaganda. So either the woman who said it in the video was told what to say, or is regurgitating a phrase that’s been hammered into her mind subconsciously. Either way, it’s not much testament to her spiritual awakening.

Like the Times Square PR video, it’s probably safe to assume that this one was made more for Chinese consumption than for foreigners. The Chinese subtitles and the feel of a government propaganda film don’t do much to improve foreigners’ view of China. However, it might boost Chinese national pride to see that a very pro-China video is being shown overseas.

It’ll be interesting to see what Chinese people think though. The majority seemed to dissaprove of the Times Square video because of the cost and the inclusion of non-Chinese celebrities. My guess is the first thing they criticize is the fact that the narrator of this video clearly isn’t Chinese, but still says “we” throughout the video when talking about Chinese people.

But there was one lightly-veiled slap in the face to the West in the video that’s hard to ostracize:

“China can back it’s development with strong financial reserves”

Touché China…touché

  1. ‘Migrant workers’ children have their own special educational arrangements’ truly is laughable – that it was included in a promotional video. A stark comment, but when we compare it this story :http://antikryptos.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/black-mother-jailed-for-sending-kids-to-white-school-district-2/ we see segregation exists elsewhere but not shown in promotional video’s !

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