Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sharpen your critical thinking skills

Up until a decade ago, Chinese government propaganda was easy to spot. It was full of stock phrases and awkward English and paranoia. Not so much anymore. PR execs with degrees from American universities?

China's political propaganda gets a digital makeover
China has been trying and failing for years to get its people, especially its young people, to care about its political system. Could it now be close to working out how to do just this?

Every March, the National People Congress (NPC), China's biggest annual political event, goes virtually unnoticed by the vast majority of the Chinese people…

But as the propaganda platform shifted from rice paper to LED screens, the government has developed new tricks.

One of its first big successes was the music video of "Shisanwu", the 13th Five-Year Plan, which came out in 2015. So how do you sell the idea of the 13th five-year social and economic development strategy to young people?

An animated music video with a foreign band singing in English of course.

It became an instant hit on social media with young people talking about it, sharing it and even learning to sing it…

The Chinese State Council also released a series of newsy digital videos featuring people's wishes in the run-up to the congress.

They even interviewed carefully-chosen celebrities, such as Hu Weiwei, entrepreneur and founder of China's most successful shared electronic bikes and a viral sensation in China…

The propaganda initiative has even stretched as far as a group on WeChat, China's most popular social media app…
WeChat screen

Critics say it's the same old propaganda, just on new platforms.

But they show a desire to innovate on the part of the government and state-run media and engage the public on the platforms where they know people prize such innovation.

They can claim success in one respect: at the very least they are getting young people to talk about the congress.

Five years ago this was not happening.

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