Propaganda or not? Image video on China’s President

I’m not an expert on China and I guess my opinion is very Western-mainstream and therefore I mainly want to share this video and the supporting critical article of BBC’s China Blog: Who is Xi Dada? and shortly comment on the production of video itself. I would urge to read the article in combination with watching the video as they put each other in a relative perspective.

The image video on China’s President Xi Jinping has gone viral recently due to his visit in the U.S. and was uploaded by Chinese newspaper “People’s Daily” which is said to be close to the Communist Party’s principles. It is truly a great piece of propaganda – there is just no beating around the bush. I know Chinese foster deep nationalism, but even never-ending love for your country can justify this over-the-top and in-your-face forced idealistic image of China’s President. Putting it on YouTube is really mean as it is accessible almost worldwide – yet not in China – and viewers can easily misunderstand this video as “true opinions” and “realistic image of Xi Jinping”.

I don’t want to judge Xi Jinping’s character or himself as a person nor asses his political work. What I am criticising is the way this video has been made and how China’s President is presented. Neither do I want to insinuate the foreign students for having been paid to say what they said, but their statements were clearly pieced together to an extremely positive image – it’s just so obvious. Some interviewees were set in neat backgrounds which should give the impression of a modern and international University; yet the style is far beyond any random interviewing of people passing by. In the first part, it is difficult to argue against the students’ statements as they mainly present their personal impressions on Xi Jinping. They also seem to report on features which some Chinese people typically relate to their President. However, in the last part of this video – I don’t know if some students just want to show-off or leave a good impression of themselves, be funny, just want to be nice or know they shouldn’t say anything off-script – their comments are really hard to take and to believe…

In all the video seems so obviously placed to me. I fear if one is not fully aware of the complications of media reality, one might get carried away easily and actually believe in YouTube content instead of questioning the authenticity of the message.


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