A Subversive Chinese New Year’s Greeting

There’s been a blip in my blogging again. About 10% was due to inertia (it’s addictive), about 15% was due to a manic workload and deadlines, and the remaining 75% can be attributed to the inconvenience of Wordpress being blocked and only accessible with a VPN.

I thought I’d dig my way past the blocks this interesting piece of Chinese animation in time for the Chinese New Year. This flash animation video angered the CCP’s censorship department when it was posted on Tudou last week. The animation was put together by Beijing based animator, Wang bo, and features a character named Kuang kuang who dreams about a violent revolt against the government. The bunnies are seen as being analogous with the Chinese people and the tigers are meant to be corrupt CCP members/the government. Rabbits representing the common Chinese people, and the ruling classes being portrayed by tiger has has further meaning – yesterday evening, China celebrated as the year of the tiger gave way to the year of the rabbit.

I’ve had a go at providing subtitles and uploading it to youtube – NB: I’m a novice at subbing.

The video was obviously inspired by other cartoons that have a penchant for gore, most notably Happy Tree Friends – a cartoon where cute woodland creatures meet gruesomely violent deaths each episode – and is littered with explicit references to incidences that have happened over the past few years.

  • The baby rabbits dying after drinking milk is a reference to the tainted milk scandal that saw many babies fall ill and some die as a result of drinking milk powder containing Melanine.
  • The fire parallels an incident in Xinjiang in 1994 when a fire broke out in a theatre and citizens were ordered to remain seated so officials could leave first.
  • The demolition of the houses represents the many, many incidences of Chinese people having their houses demolished to make way for a new road or shopping mall while they are relocated to less desirable locations or offered little compensation
  • The tiger that says, ‘My father is Tiger Gang,’ refers to the Li Gang Incident. that happened with an official’s son. Li Qiming, the son of the deputy director of Baoding Public Security Bureau, Li Gang, knocked down two students, and one died as a result, when security guards on campus tried to stop him driving off he shouted, ‘My father is Li Gang!
  • The rabbit dying under the wheel of a truck is based on what happened to a former village head, Qian Yunhui (WARNING: gruesome photos await), who was known for trying to weed out corrupt officials.

China Geeks posted a piece that discussed the consequences of such a video and whether it could spark a violent revolt as public dissatisfaction with the CCP grows and news (albeit censored) of the protests in Egypt reach China’s shores. However, the creator Wang bo stated in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the video wasn’t rallying people to revolt. Wang bo has previously described his films as “abstract works that parallel what is going on in reality, constructing another spiritual world parallel to the real world.”

Wang bo’s video was more of a cathartic way to take a swipe at injustices in modern day China and how the CCP should take more care of its citizens. The incidences referenced were generally reported in the Chinese press (although not always in depth) and were not caused by Hu Jintao himself, but the corrupt officials across China who are apparently impossible for the CCP to monitor. The CCP regularly calls on its citizens to help reduce corruption by reporting these officials as they fear corruption will bring about the downfall of the party. This is all very well, but simply having standards and regulations in place in the first place would make these kinds of things hard to pull off. This is one thing that bugs me right now with China: there are plenty of rules and laws to restrict the people, but few to protect them. There is amazing growth and wealth, but little seems to be directed towards internal structure, stability, laws, rights, rules and regulations – and aiming to actually prevent corruption rather than punishing the people responsible when it happens.

So there we have it, internal criticism in China does reach beyond Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiabo and the younger generation isn’t as apathetic as they may be perceived to be. However, these criticisms are often hidden in metaphors and allegorical meanings may be harder for the international non-Chinese speaking community to immediately connect to.

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P.S.: If you are interested in seeing less violent animations featuring Kuang kuang by the same animation studio, go to www.kuanger.com or here.

Kuang kuang and friends

One response to “A Subversive Chinese New Year’s Greeting

  1. Pingback: What Chinese Really Think About Their Condition « Playing the Devil's Advocate·

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