Cringing exercises over 100 muscles in the face and other important parts of the body. So – if you haven’t already – take a look at how Chinese state media get hip n groovy and down with the kids in explaining the annual ‘two meetings’ to the wider world.
As the expert accompanying narrative mentions, the problem here is that Beijing’s ‘communication practitioners’, spin-doctors and PR floozies have delivered what their stone-faced Leninist superiors deem correct, rather than anything that will persuade a skeptical external audience.
In a workplace where you and your family can disappear overnight, you would make videos like this too. You could try carefully suggesting to the big boss that effective communication should be candid – perhaps even conceding that China’s advisory bodies are essentially rubber-stamp assemblies – but then making a case why the system delivers results (millions of starving pandas pulled from poverty etc). But you probably wouldn’t.
Boss-targeted propaganda goes back to the pharaohs, King Canute and company brochures crammed with pictures of the CEO. It is alive and well in Hong Kong’s civil-servant-controlled government’s own embarrassingly defensive and shamelessly self-congratulatory press releases.
Don’t listen to Joshua Wong – we handle prison complaints absolutely fairly. And the government generously shares its very own hard-earned wealth with these poor kids, and the last budget was like oh-so forward-looking, and the health-centre tendering that looked corrupt was spotlessly clean and fair, and those people who say there are rats everywhere are just imagining it. So there.
The difference is that the Hong Kong government PR floozy submits whatever makes the boss happy, to get it over with – they are both waiting to collect their pensions and get out. Her Mainland counterpart has passport confiscation, extra detention at Xi Jinping Thought classes, self-criticisms, forced confessions or purging to consider.
The Hong Kong official PR materials are cynical and lazy. Inept through lack of interest. The Beijing propaganda is driven by fear. Hence the weird slickness.
We won’t even start on Hong Kong’s guaranteed-to-fall-flat anti-drug banners – not now, not ever…