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Viral Video Compares Chinese Top Leaders to Kung Fu Masters

A video, “How to become a top leader?”, uploaded to major video hosting sites on 14 October 2013, has gone viral in China as it is the first time China's top leaders are presented as cartoon figures on the Chinese internet.

With both English and Mandarin versions, the professionally made video presents the selection process of Chinese leaders as “meritocratic screening that requires years of hard work like the making of a Kung Fu master” and describes the U.S election of president as “more difficult than becoming an American Idol”.

The video is produced by a studio called “Road to Revival” which resonates with Chinese president Xi Jinping's China dream. Hence many speculated that the video is state sponsored. Kang Jie is among one of the micro-bloggers to point out [zh] the video's political nature:

很可能是由官方制作,意在改变以往中国相对生硬的宣传方式,尝试以一种与国际接轨、公众更能接受的新方式来阐释中国的政治制度,并且选择“干部选拔”这个核心话题进行国际对比,显示出相当的自信。

It is likely an official production [government sponsored], an attempt to change the rigid political propaganda in the past. It tries to use a new way to explain the Chinese political system to the public and international society by focusing on Chinese “official selection” system and comparing it with other international systems. It manifests its confidence.

The 5 minute video begins with a brief explanation of the U.S presidential election system:

Anyone born on American soil, have lived in the States for more than 14 years and are now over 35 years old. Then you can run for U.S president. [...]

Without a glib tongue, extraordinary stamina, and most importantly an unending flow of greenbacks, no one can ever pull through it. The two candidates in the 2012 US presidential election, spent 2.04 billion US dollars. Alas becoming a “political hero” is definitely far more difficult than becoming an “American Idol”!

Before explaining the difficult path of Chinese leaders, the video describes the “massive” character of the Chinese Community Party:

How then does one win the presidency in China? To begin with you also must get to the top of the governing party. But here we're talking about a Party of more than 85 million members. To qualify for top leadership, you need to go through decades of selections and tests. The membership of the gigantic party is a first pass. You could be a college student, or factory hand, or technician, a journalist, a teacher. Anyways, you must be excellent at what you do. Various trials and tests lie ahead to determine whether you have it in you to lead.

In China, officials are ranked in a hierarchy. Typically one starts at the primary level and then is promoted successively to township / section, county / division, department / bureau, and province / ministry levels. Among China's 7 million officials, only one out of every 140,000 makes this far and it takes more than 20 years.

Then the video takes the current Chinese president, Xi Jinping, as an example to explain the “meritocratic screening” process of top leaders:

Take Xi Jinping, president of China. He started at a primary-level office, one similar to community councils in the West. Later he was promoted to run a county, then a city and then different provinces like Fujian and Zhejiang and Shanghai. He went on to become the Veep and finally the Party General Secretary and the President. He experienced 16 major job transfers and governed an accumulative population of over 150 million over 40 plus years. [...]

In the system before a party member could take over the helm of China, he would have sailed through all kinds of rapids and shoals. More important, he would have participated in the deliberation and formulation of many major strategies and policies. That is why over the decades, through several leadership transitions, China has managed to keep its policies generally consistent and worked along one national development strategy. This is one of the secrets of the “China Miracle”.

To counter problems like environmental degradation, and statistical frauds in recent years, due to excessive pursuit of GDP, the evaluation criteria for officials have also been duly modified to include items such as energy and resource efficiency, social security, and cultural development. To the end of each year, officials face a thorough performance review where they are gauged with more than 40 different yardsticks. Besides, their performance is also subject to a vote of approval by the rank and file under their administration and all kinds of supervision. Today the 538 million netizens of China show no mercy to officials with misconducts. Many roads lead to national leadership and every country has one for itself. Whether by a single ballot that gets the whole nation out to vote, or by a meritocratic screening that requires years of hard work like the making of a Kung Fu master. As long as people are satisfied, and the country develops and progresses as a result, it's working.

The professionally made video went viral online as soon as it was uploaded because it is the first time [zh] to see Chinese top leaders presented as cartoon figures on the Chinese internet. Indeed most of the discussions on Chinese social media platforms are about the creative presentation style and “cuteness” of the images while neglecting the self-flattering comparison of Chinese top leaders to “Kung Fu masters”.

Chinese micro-bloggers are usually keen to debate about the political system, yet this time, almost no critical comment appears on social media platforms due to the Communist Party's ideological battle and the resulting crackdown of online dissents. One can only find mumbling comments hidden here and there. For example, under the Nanjing city propaganda department's Weibo comment section:

法明道长:不敢乱说什么!

“Taoist Priest Faming”: Dare not say anything!

妙木山的初级仙人:那个往上跳的片段应该让薄先生也出境,不能因为人家被推下去就不让人家出境

“Junior Taoist Immortal in Miaomu Mountain”: Should also show Mr. Bo [Xilai] on the staircase, should not censor him out because he has fallen.

春风化雨的时候:自欺欺人被人欺~

“Time to teach”: Cheating others cheating oneself.

拉哥1990微博達人:最重要的背景和家庭出身没讲

Brother La 1990: It has not mentioned background and family, the most important criteria of all.

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