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“What’s Modernisation?” – Chinese State Media Explain China’s ‘New Era’ With a Rap

No three-and-a-half-hour speech, but a three-and-a-half minute video explains China’s new strategies in this latest propaganda clip on social media.

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No three-and-a-half-hour speech, but a three-and-a-half minute video – Chinese state media explain China’s new strategies through catchy rap music and trendy graphics.

The much-anticipated 19th Party Congress opened last Wednesday in Beijing with Xi Jinping’s three-and-a-half-hour speech on “Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” (新时代中国特色社会主义思想), which presented the Party’s new concepts, thoughts and strategies – with Xi himself at its core.

Shi-jiu-da (十九大, ‘big 19’) is the popular abbreviation for the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China. This Plenum is held once every five years and is the highest level political meeting in the Chinese calendar. The meeting is also a big topic on Chinese social media; the Weibo hashtag for the ‘big 19’ event #十九大# was viewed over 3,6 billion times on Friday.

As with previous major political gatherings, speeches and rhetoric are not the only means by which the Party and state media seek to convey their message to the wider population. A video titled “What is modernization? Let us tell you in a rap!” (“现代化”是什么化?一段嘻哈告诉你!) is the latest in a series produced by state broadcaster CCTV. The video is being spread through social media.

The clip (click link or see embedded video below), that lays out the government’s stategies for China’s ‘new era’ through rap music with bright graphics, was widely distributed on Chinese social media this week by various media platforms and institutions, from the Economic Observer (@经济观察报) to the Ministry of Public Security.

The translation of the video’s full text* is as follows:

Let’s go!
This October in Beijing
…will all be arriving!
The time has come for 十九大(shi-jiu-da)
Listen out for the important voices
十九大 (shi-jiu-da) let’s say a little about it

There is a lot of information here
So, listen out carefully and I’ll speak slowly
In the past, China has always advanced courageously
As we have said before,
When difficult problems are solved then great things can be established!
Our nation is full of vigor and vitality!

Anti-corruption efforts are strong
Many tigers have been taken down
From rocket lift-offs to submarine exercises,
Technology is changing our lives
Haha, Haha, Haha,

As I’m going to show up next, we have plans going forward…

[Xi Jinping’s voice speaking:]

By the time we reach the middle period of this century, we will have built a modern socialist state which is rich and powerful, democratic, civilised, and harmonious. In this way, we will have realized the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people.

[Rap continues:]

But, building in accordance with the needs of modernization
What even is modernization?

Let me tell you:

[End of rap, start of explanation by lecturer:]

100 years ago, Sun Yat-sen set out a blueprint for modernization in ‘Strategy for Building a Nation’: build train tracks, repair the roads, construct large ports. At that time, this was still considered fantastical and unrealistic.

But today, train lines criss-cross the whole nation! They run N-S between Beijing-Guangdong-Shanghai, as well as across the well-trodden route of Lanzhou-Chengdu-Chongqing. The length of the journey on the bullet trains just keeps reducing!

Again, at the time the People’s Republic was founded, not even a tractor could be built! Thus, building a modern, industrial socialist nation became our aim.

In 1954, the first National People’s Congress was held.  This was the first time the aim of achieving the Four Modernizations was clearly referenced. In just the next few years, factory after factory was built, including those of Anshan Steel works and Changchun car manufacturers.
Our workers are powerful!

This was a song I would listen to when I was young, and hearing it I would know my dad would soon finish work for the day and so I would quickly pack away all my marbles. Entering the period of opening and reform, Deng Xiaoping named the Four Modernizations as the way to ‘Chinese Modernization’, as well as wanting to become a middle-income nation.

In the 1970s, when people married, the three major durable consumer goods were still watches, bicycles and sewing machines. In the 80s, this became fridges, color TVs, and washing machines, and by the 90s changed again into air conditioning, cameras, and camcorders.

[Xi Jinping’s voice:]

Now, information technologies such as the internet are changing with each passing day. This is leading a new revolution in society and bringing new dimensions into human lives.

[Presenter continues:]

A report from the 18th Party Congress, published on 8th November 2012, mentioned the ‘4 New Modernisations.’ This has led to the implementation of an innovation-driven development strategy. Over the last 5 years, the major technological developments we have made have accumulated further and further. The computing in the Sunway Taihu Light is the most advanced in the world.

The quantum satellite Mozi Hao is unparalleled. The Tiangong 2 satellite has been sent off smoothly. Each of these wondrous engineering projects is a feat of its own! What a country!

In 2013, General Secretary Xi Jinping then added one more modernization into the fold, that being to ‘continue to advance the nation’s governing system, and to modernize our governing capabilities.’

Modernisation as a whole is very impressive. Frankly speaking, only this modernization of the inner qualities of officials and organizations will enable them to govern the country and change the civilized norms.We don’t take a break from modernization!

[Rap continues:]

Yeah, now that we have become a middle-class society
We have reached the most important section of our reform agenda
What are the issues that affect the lives of the middle class?

At this stage in the development of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,
People are heading in the direction of a better life
The Party must remember
This is a new beginning!

In what direction is the bullet train heading?
After 200 years, will the Chinese dream have been realized?
What expectations do Chinese families have for their future?
Will the 十九大 (shi-jiu-da) answer these questions for you?
Of course!

Both the design and the genre of the new clip show some resemblance to clips launched during the Belt and Road Summit earlier this year.

On Weibo, a platform that is heavily controlled during the 19th National Congress, the video was shared hundreds of times. Although discussions on the video are limited due to current restrictions, one surprised netizen just posted: “Can I actually comment on this?!”

By Alice Mingay

* Full Text:
Let’s go!
在十月里的北京
。。。。都到这里 (3-4)
十九大要来了
听听到重要的声音
十九大,说点嘛?

这里信息有点多
你听我慢慢说
过去砥砺奋进
也我们互相说过
难提解决大事办成
祖国朝气蓬勃
反腐力度很大
打掉的老虎很多
胖五升空,蛟龙下水
科技改变生活
哈哈,哈哈,哈哈
接下来,我们还有个目标

[习近平的声音:]
到本世纪中叶建成富强民主
文明和谐的社会主义现代化国家,
实现中华民族伟大复兴。
–中共中烟总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平

建设现代化
那现代化是什么?
来,听我跟你说
百年前,孙中山在[建国方略]里描绘了现代化的蓝图
建铁路、修公路、建造水平大海港
这些的当时,还被认为是‘空想’
而如今,京广、京沪穿南北
兰渝铁路通蜀道
复兴号路途时间再修短

再说,新中国刚成立时
一台拖拉机都不能造
建成社会主义现代化工业国就是我们的目标

1954年,第一届全国人民代表大会
第一次明确提出要实现四个现代化
随后的几年里,鞍山无缝钢管厂、长春第一汽车制造厂一个厂接一个厂
咱们工人有力量

‘咱们工人有力量’
小时候一听到这首歌就知道爸爸要下班了,赶紧把玻璃球收起来
迈入改革开放新时期,邓小平把实现四个现代化的目标称为‘中国式的现代化’,也就是‘小康之家’。
70年代,人们结婚, ‘三大件’还是手表自行车缝纫机
80年代,冰箱、彩电、洗衣机
90年代变成空调、音像、录像机

现在以互联网为代表的信息技术日新月异
引领了社会生产新变革
创造了人类生活新空间

2012年11月8号的中共十八大报告提出了 ‘新四化’
实施创新驱动发展战略
这五年,祖国的科技发展硕果累累
超级计算机“神威-太湖之光”世界第一
量子卫星‘墨子号’世界独一无二
‘天宫二号’顺利发射
奇迹工程一个个,厉害了,我的国

2013年习近平总书记又给这新四化加了一化
不断推进国家治理体系和治理能力现代化

整个现代化,有点厉害了
说白了,就是国家机构官员素质的现代化是治理国家变得文明规范
建设现代化,我们不放假

Yeah, 如今全面建成小康社会
到最关键的议程
小康心内还是什么事关你我的生活
中国特色社会主义进行的发展阶段
人民群众向往的美好生活
党中要记得
这是一个新的起点
复兴号驶向哪儿?
两个一百年后,中国梦实现了吗?
对于祖国家庭未来,还有那些期待?
来过这十九大,还为你来解答?
必须的

Edited by Manya Koetse
Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Alice Mingay is a final year undergraduate Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford. She has spent over a year in Beijing and has a particular interest in Chinese Internet and Chinese Law. She is currently researching the development of China’s e-courts.

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China and Covid19

‘Hard Isolation’ is Shanghai’s New Word of the Day

In line with a new ‘hard isolation’ measure, the entrances of some Shanghai residential buildings were fenced up.

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While some Shanghai households have already endured weeks of isolation, a new word was added to their epidemic vocabulary today: ‘hard isolation’ or ‘strong quarantine’ (yìng gélí 硬隔离)

The word popped up on Chinese social media on April 23rd after some Shanghai netizens posted photos of fences being set up around their community building to keep residents from walking out.

“New word: hard isolation. Shanghai is rotten to the core,” one commenter wrote.

The word soon turned into a hashtag page where people started commenting on the issue of fences being placed around residential buildings, voicing concerns on what a fence around buildings would mean for fire safety, especially after online rumors suggested that there had been a fire at one community in Pudong on Saturday night.

An official document regarding the ‘hard isolation’ measure was also shared online on Saturday. It is dated April 23, 2022, and its source is the Pudong New Area Office for Epidemic Control.

The document states that in line with the guidelines for the city’s epidemic prevention and control, the division between areas or zones that are in certain risk categories should be ‘optimized,’ with those in the high-risk category requiring a ‘hard isolation.’ Security guards should also be on duty 24 hours a day at the entrance of the buildings.

Earlier this month, Shanghai adopted “3-level control measures” after its initial phased lockdown. It means that local areas will be classified as “locked-down,” “controlled” or “precautionary,” based on their Covid19 risk.

“Could we also put fences around the homes of Shanghai leaders?”, one person suggested, while others posted images from the Walking Dead to mock the situation.

In the hope of Shanghai soon tackling the Covid situation, not everybody disagreed with the decision to fence some buildings or communities in the Pudong area: “I don’t disagree with it, as long as there is always someone there to open the fence in case of fire,” one person stated.

Although having a fence around their building is currently not a reality for most in Shanghai, the online photos of some communities seeing their buildings being fenced up is a reason to worry for some: “It’s been 40 days, and now they start hard isolation? This actually scares me. Before we know it, it’s June.”

One Weibo user asked: “Why is it possible to implement this hard isolation now? Was this created by the same persons who also implemented the rule to separate children from parents at isolation sites?”

“I truly can’t imagine why some people thought this is a good idea,” others wrote.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China and Covid19

‘Voices of April’: The Day After

“The best way to make videos go viral is by censoring them.”

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On April 23, a day after the video ‘Voices of April’ briefly took over social media before it was censored, the trending topic of the day is a hashtag related to new Covid cases reported in Shanghai.

Shanghai reported higher Covid-19 cases and deaths on Friday than the five days prior, which showed a daily decline in new cases. Shanghai reported a total of 23,370 new cases (including 20,634 asymptomatic ones), the municipal health commission said Saturday. A related hashtag by Xinhua News received over 910 million views on Weibo on Saturday (#上海新增本土确诊2736例无症状20634例#).

Although the hashtag was initiated by state media to inform about the Shanghai Covid situation, netizens started using it to criticize Shanghai’s handling of the crisis, with more commenters questioning China’s zero-Covid strategy. Similarly, other state media-initiated hashtag places also became online spaces where Weibo users vented their frustrations earlier this month.

Besides the ongoing online criticism and vocal disagreement with China’s Covid handling and policies, there are also many who express shock at the recent crackdown of any form of protest or criticism regarding the situation in Shanghai.

“‘Voices of April’ has been shutdown all over the internet, I’m simply dumbfounded,” one person said about the popular video that contained real recordings of events that happened during the city’s lockdown.

“If you still can find the video anywhere, forward it,” another person writes.

Besides Voices of April (四月之声), there have also been other videos over the past week that are meant to expose the mishandling of the Covid situation in Shanghai.

One of them is titled Farewell, Language (再见语言), another one is Shanghai Late Spring (上海晚春).

Farewell, Language (再见语言) is a 42-second sound art video by artist Yang Xiao (杨潇), who used over 600 commonly used propaganda phrases from Chinese official channels and randomly broadcasted the audio in the community where he lives.

The anti-epidemic workers just continue their work and do not seem to notice anything out of the ordinary at all. The video shows how this kind of language has been so normalized that for most, it has just become background noise in their everyday life – without even noticing nor critically assessing its meaning or logic anymore.

The Shanghai Late Spring (上海晚春) video is a compilation of video footage from the Shanghai lockdown, showing people struggling to get food, violent altercations between anti-epidemic workers and residents, people living in deplorable conditions in quarantine centers, and more (link to video).

The video uses the song Cheer Up London by Slaves, its chorus being:

You’re dead, already, dead, dead, already-ready
Dead, already, dead, dead, already-ready
Dead, already, dead, dead, already-ready
Dead, already, dead
.”

One Weibo commenter responded to the video in English, using a text from Les Misérables: “Do you hear the people sing / Singing the song of angry men / It is the music of a people / Who will not be slaves again!” The phrase “do you hear the people sing” was also used by other social media users to address the situation in Shanghai and the censorship of related topics.

“The best way to make videos go viral is by censoring them,” one commenter replied.

Read our previous article about ‘Voices of April’ here.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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