China’s Communist Party Goes Viral

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Here at NMR we’ve known about the power of online video for years! In the United States, marketers, brands and even mainstream media are slowly coming around. It seems like everyone now is getting on board and looking to create their own viral hit. That includes one surprise contender that you may not have expected: The Communist Party of China.

Apparently being the only legal political party in China isn’t enough for the CPC. The Chinese Ministry of Defense is using viral videos to promote the Communist Party and to celebrate the People’s Liberation Army, which brought the Communists to power during the Chinese Civil War. A recent video released by the Ministry of Defense celebrates the 87th anniversary of the PLA with fighter jets and line-dancing soldiers all set to the tune of “Little Apple,” a hit song by Chinese comedy pop ground “The Chopstick Brothers.”

Another video featuring music from the Chop Stick Brother’s landed the Chinese government in hot water with the leaders of ally North Korea. The video, which was not produced by the Chinese government, featured a buffoonish Kim Jong Un dancing in a manner which the North Korean leadership felt undermined the dictator’s dignity.

The videos are part of a new effort by the Chinese government to adopt its long history of state-sponsored propaganda to the online video ecosystem. China’s online video market, while small compared to that of other countries is growing rapidly. The medium is particularly popular among younger Chinese who show less interest in state-run traditional media which is heavily censored and regulated. New media in China is also subject to censorship, as companies like YouTube have learned. However social media is still thriving and the government-produced videos have gone viral on Chinese social network like Weibo, a microblogging Twitter analog.

Whether the video represents a loosening of China’s traditionally straight-laced control of media, or simply a more modern version of its traditional propaganda strategies, remains to be seen. Regardless, it appears that more institutions are taking tentative steps to enter the digital media world with online video being an important first step.

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