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Chinese Military Lures Recruits with Rap Music Video

A new recruitment video for China’s People’s Liberation Army is a marked departure from past productions, which China Daily characterized as more staid affairs, with “orchestral melodies” and lyrics “carefully worded to avoid being too aggressive.”

The new video is fast-paced, scored with rap music, filled with aggressive language, and titled, “Battle Declaration.”

According to China Daily, the opening voiceover says, “There are always missions in soldiers’ minds, enemies in their eyes, responsibilities on their shoulders, and passions in their hearts. There could be a war at any time. Are you ready for that?”

The video proceeds to show lightning-quick cuts of Chinese soldiers getting “ready for that,” using some of the best weapons in the PLA arsenal. The images include China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, along with a J-11 fighter, Type-99A tank, DF-11 ballistic missile, satellites, and spacecraft.

Quartz translates the chorus of the rap song and finds it “more morbid than one might expect from an army recruitment video,” as it begins with “a reference to getting shot.”

Even if a bullet passes through my chest
My mission remains carved in my heart
Brothers, let’s follow this path
[Roar! Roar! Roar! Roar!]
Roar with animal spirit
Look to the bravest general of them all
Walk from here toward the site of combat

Even if a bullet passes through my chest
My mission remains carved in my heart
From the center to the borders
Let’s go to war, let’s fight to win
When we follow the commands of the party
The country honors our guardianship
The rising head of a loyal patriot
If I don’t bear the burden, who else will?

China Daily quotes a PLA publicist who said the video is meant to convey the impression that China’s military “is no longer the poorly equipped one that they saw from TV dramas, but a powerful force as modernized as the United States military.”

The emphasis on space imagery is also intended to send a deliberate message about the “unprecedented importance” the PLA is putting on its space forces and to attract educated young people, who currently “spare no efforts to avoid military service.”

Quartz notes that rap-style videos have also been employed to tout President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign and to warn Chinese citizens about the dangers of foreign spies, who were “depicted as American superheroes.” (And, strangely, Rowan Atkinson’s bumbling “Mr. Bean.”)

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