This kids' music video has a bubblegum pop sensibility and a cartoonish, family-friendly vibe you might expect to see in an ad for Old Navy. It's actually the latest thing in Chinese government propaganda.
The spot plugs China's "Belt and Road" initiative, a huge infrastructure plan to build a modern-day Silk Road linking Asia, Europe and Africa. It's one of the signature projects of Chinese President Xi Jinping. It's also really complex and has an unsexy name, which are two possible reasons the country's propaganda apparatus has gone into overdrive trying to sell it to the world with English-language videos even a child could understand.
This music video, "The Belt and Road is How," bears many similarities to another zany propaganda spot that was made by BBDO China in 2015. That one also had cheery, retro cartoons and a catchy tune. The agency declined to answer when asked if this new spot was also its work.
The ad starts out with a red curtain and a credit from the Fuxing Road Studio, the same name that appears on many of China's propaganda spots. When the curtain opens, it reveals children of many nations singing lyrics about prosperity, trade routes and ports. The refrain: "The future's coming now/ The Belt and Road is how/We'll share the goodness now/The Belt and Road is how."
This is the slickest piece of propaganda to come out as China hosts a summit of leaders on the topic. State-run newspaper China Daily shared a couple low-budget videos of one of its English-language journalists, Erik Nilsson, explaining the project to his 5-year-old by using a map and a toy camel and boat to represent ancient trade routes. There's also some corny dialogue. ("It's China's idea, but it belongs to the world.") Those videos are called "Belt and Road Bedtime Stories," and each ends with the narrator tucking his daughter into bed and turning off the lights.