Viral Chinese Cartoon Explains How to Become President
The production value is high but the producer isn’t taking any bows. Named in the brief credits as Fuxing Lushang Studio, the outfit couldn’t be located for an interview.
This civics lesson is humorous. It takes headshot photos of U.S. President Barack Obama, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping and superimposes them onto cartoon bodies.
Starting with a study of the U.S. system, the video shows how Mr. Obama punched his way past opponents, not only using his red boxing gloves but also his “glib tongue,” stamina and ability – in fact, the guiding prerequisite in U.S. politics – to “raise funds wherever you can.”
The producers take no chances that some viewers of the cartoon might get the impression the U.S. electoral process is like some cheap TV contest. The video explains how “pulling it off” is actually a “super complex business.” The last election cycle cost the candidates over $2 billion. “Alas,” reminds the video, “becoming a ‘political hero’ is definitely far more difficult than becoming an ‘American Idol’!”
It’s no easier in the U.K. There, “trials and tribulations” faced by a candidate for the prime minister’s job make the chances of winning “narrower” than Susan Boyle’s crowning on the show Britain’s Got Talent.
But the how-to video shines most with its succinct answers to a question that has long befuddled scholars of the nation’s unique political system: “How then does one win the presidency in China?”
With a straightforward explanation, and minimum theatrics, the video explains candidates must, as in other countries, “also get to the top of the governing party.” The choice of party is apparently less of a challenge than standing out within a very big group — “we’re talking about a party of more than 85 million members,” the video explains, equaling that figure to the German population.
But any Chinese college student, factory hand, technician, journalist or teacher apparently has a chance – if they are willing to undergo “decades of selections and tests.” Plus, it says, “you must be excellent at what you do.” So much so that it takes 20 years to get to a high level position, while more than 140,000 get weeded out for each from a pool of 7 million officials who rises high.
The video is vague about which yardsticks, tests and trials a candidate faces to show “whether you have it in you to lead.” But some of them appear to come in the form of intercontinental ballistic missiles launched from unknown places on the other side of the Pacific Ocean from China, the video shows.
China’s current president, Mr. Xi followed just such a path. He started with a job somewhat like the “community councils in the west” and steadily advanced through a county, three provinces and, with vigorous hops shown in the video, “he went on to become the veep and finally the Party General Secretary and the President.”
It took Mr. Xi 16 major job transfers over 40 years. The rest of top leadership, after doing stints covering more than half of China’s territory, likewise moved upwards step-by-step.
The video explains how, “Many roads lead to national leadership and each country has one for itself whether by a single ballot that gets the whole nation out to vote or a meritocratic screening that requires years of hard work like the making of a KungFu Master.”
So it’s true children, there are different roads. But, as we learn in the video, “As long as the people are satisfied, and the country progresses and develops as a result, it’s working.”
In the comments on Youku’s site, a small number of cynics said they suspect the cartoon is state-directed propaganda. “Obviously this is made by some official (source). There is no sarcasm at all,” wrote one.
That’s not a surprising stance. After all, the video comes days after an English-language editorial published by the official Xinhua news agency said the dragged-out U.S. political impasse over budgeting means it is time for a “de-Americanized world.” Also, Britain’s chancellor was in Beijing this week trying to make nice after a year of testy Sino-U.K. relations over the prime minister’s decision in 2012 to meet the Tibtan leader Dalai Lama.
Other Internet users appeared to be enjoying the show. “Who says the image of the leader has to be serious? Why can’t they change to this kind of relaxing, humorous, people-friendly image? I like it,” wrote one. “The content of this video doesn’t matter much. The most important thing is to allow the cartoon images of national leaders in the video for us to watch.”