Is this the face of today’s Communist Party? Slick TV advert wins over some viewers, but leaves others cold

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 July, 2016, 5:53pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 July, 2016, 7:33pm

A new television advert glorifying China’s Communist Party has gone viral online in China.

In celebration of the party’s 95th anniversary, state-run China Central Television (CCTV) produced the party’s first public-service TV advert entitled “Who am I”.

The 90-second video opens with the question: “Who am I? What kind of person am I?”

It then shows six party members from all walks of life – each going beyond the call of duty, before concluding “I’m the Communist Party. I'm always by your side.”

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Featured in the advert are a student who is the last to leave after tidying up a classroom, a street sweeper cleaning the roads before dawn, and a police officer directing traffic while weathering a thunderstorm. The scenes play out over emotional piano music.

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The video was filmed in Shanghai, the home base of the party in its early days, and the production took nearly three weeks to complete.

My heart melted as I watched. Can't believe I just became a fan of the party
Viewer quoted by Thepaper.cn

It is meant to illustrate socialist values and communicate the party’s beliefs through “fresh language and rich images”.

The video was first broadcast on TV in June, but did not gain much popularity until Tuesday when the advert was shared by the Communist Youth League on Weibo, a service akin to Twitter.

As the advert begins making waves, reaction has been mixed. “My heart melted as I watched,” said one observer quoted by digital news outlet Thepaper.cn “Can't believe I just became a fan of the party.”

It is not about the party. It is about hard-working people
Weibo user

Others pointed out that the virtues portrayed, such as selflessness and kindness, were not necessarily exclusive qualities of the party. “It is not about the party. It is about hard-working people,” a Weibo user said.

Others gave the advert their own twist, posting comments like “I am the one who is best at deleting posts,” one said, sarcastically.

Others quipped: “I am the one who is best at talking,” and “I am the one who shouts the loudest slogans.” Censors have removed some of those comments.

The video was also posted on YouTube, which prompted uncensored comments that mainlanders cannot access.

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“There’s no point in creating a political advert because people don’t have the right to vote or elect,” said one YouTube user.

Another comment suggested replacing the stars in the advert with imprisoned former high-ranking party officials such as Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong.

Despite divided reaction online, the video has earned more than 20 million hits on Tencent Video, one of China's largest video sites.