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It’s important to sing about shopping with integrity. (Picture: China Youth Daily on Weibo)

China made a music video about trustworthiness to promote the social credit system

Promoting “integrity” is the latest theme of China’s propaganda music videos

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

When China wants to promote a political initiative, they make a song about it. Even if it’s about something as mundane as, er, creditworthiness.

A new three-and-a-half-minute video titled “Live Up to Your Word” features five pop stars singing about how to achieve good social credit. It was produced by state-run newspaper China Youth Daily and Tencent-owned Kugou Music under the guidance of the Communist Youth League.

The singers are put in a range of scenarios to demonstrate how to be a trustworthy citizen, like shopping at an unmanned store, riding a shared bike and reading at a public library, or “shared reading,” as a sign in the video calls it.

“Live up to your word, be a trustworthy youth,” one line in the song goes.

It’s important to sing about shopping with integrity. (Picture: China Youth Daily on Weibo)

“Live Up to Your Word” is the latest of many propaganda music videos made by Chinese authorities, who are trying to deliver messages in a way that (they think) is more relatable to a younger generation.

In 2017, the Chinese government made a number of songs about the Belt and Road Initiative, including this rap song featuring youngsters around the world dancing to propagandistic lyrics and a panda mascot. Check it out here if you want to see how the song’s main rapper pulls off this line: “When Belt and Road reaches Egypt, Suez Canal Economic Zone boosts the local GDP.”

Another song about Belt and Road last year was dubbed “ Kommunist Kars 4 Kids” by comedian news commentator John Oliver. The song was also parodied at the end of a long bit on China that wound up getting blocked in the country. (Which is a little awkward for a country that loves Game of Thrones.)

This year, though, China really wants to emphasize “integrity.” Or to put it another way, the government is really trying to emphasize trustworthiness -- one of China’s core socialist values -- as the country works to build up its social credit system.

China’s social credit system gathers and keeps records of its citizens, rewarding people for good behavior and punishing them for bad. One of the major themes is punishing what authorities call “deadbeats,” or those who fail to repay their debts.

The country is naming and shaming “deadbeats” in various ways. They are banned from taking planes and high-speed trains, and they are even put on public display. In addition to showing their names on a national government website, one local government has also made a mini program that alerts users when they’re near a deadbeat’s address. Another city showed photos of debtors on a cinema screen right before the Avengers: Endgame premiere.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.