Hu Plays His Last Card

New Year messages by Maximum Leaders were a mixed bag this year. Gillard rabbited on about the value of family and the troops in Afghanistan, Sarkozy and Merkel promised another animus horribulus, Cameron tried to puff up the Bulldog Spirit, and heaven knows what was said in Greece.

Hu Jintai’s speech to compatriots everywhere in the world consisted of so many hackneyed concepts and dot points dancing across the page, and apologies for my recycling a turn of phrase.

“In the new year, we will unswervingly adhere to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, follow the guidelines of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, and further carry out the Scientific Outlook on Development. We will continue to properly deal with the relationship among maintaining a stable and relatively fast economic growth, adjusting economic structure and managing inflation expectations. We will accelerate the change of economic development mode and structural adjustment, focus on ensuring and improving people’s livelihood and work hard to consolidate the healthy momentum of economic and social development.”

He then mentioned global win-win situations and mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries, which I take to include the PRCs ventures in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular HERE: Workers claim abuse as China adds Zimbabwe to its scramble for Africa. Workers on Robert Mugabe’s pet construction project say they suffer regular beatings and miserable pay and conditions

Recently, Justrecently posted a timely piece on a Beijing academic’s He Zenghe‘s attempt to reverse engineer a Sino version of Joseph Nye’s soft power suitable to the needs and interests of the CCP. This is a forensic translation effort which I recommend to the Dear Reader.

With this background in place, I say Hu speaks with forked tongue, when we consider his October essay published in Seeking Truth

“We must clearly see that international hostile forces are intensifying the strategic plot of westernizing and dividing China, and ideological and cultural fields are the focal areas of their long-term infiltration.”
“We should deeply understand the seriousness and complexity of the ideological struggle, always sound the alarms and remain vigilant, and take forceful measures to be on guard and respond.”

NYT above, but any half-baked news search with provide an abundance of reportage on Hu’s fear of divisive Western soft power.

NOTE. I had better scribble like a fury as everybody is piling on this story.

Hu’s ambition to see the production of indigenous cultural offerings likely to attract a Western audience is all but dead before the ink dried in Seeking Truth. Western themed pure trash dating/reality programs dominate domestic rating much to the chagrin of the CCP ideologists. Adding a Party Granny to the panel of If You Were The One is a sure sign of desperation.

If Jim Morrison said The West is the Best, young, well-heeled urban Chinese folk have embraced this line in a very restricted manner. Of their political dreams and desires, your guess is as good as mine, and here I look forward to reading The End of the Chinese Dream by Gerard Lemos HERE.

One thing is certain, Chinese urbanites have embraced the (very restricted) soft power attraction of western luxury goods with a vengeance beyond parallel in human history: clothes, watches and cars. The list is endless and not worth a link. If you buy into the whole program, there is also the Thames Village and Jackson Hole real estate retreats.

Okay, as I’ve played fast and loose with the concept of soft power, lets finish on a cinematic note. According to Other Lisa on PD, Zhang Yimou who made Namjing (a movie I will avoid like the pox), also made a flick called A Simple Noodle Story which was based on the Coen Brother’s first outing Blood Simple., one of my favourite noirish movies set in deep, dusty, footloose Texas. (Peking Duck #99 Han Han and the democracy debate.)

Rather than slavishly aping Western plots and narratives, Zhang would do well to look to domestic materials upon which to develop a Sino-noir cinema, and here I refer him to this delight from Malcolm Moore:
Chinese official arrested after ‘poisonous cat stew plot. A government official in south China has been arrested for murder, after he allegedly used a bowl of poisoned pork rib and cat meat stew to kill a local businessman.

Update. The great character actor M. Emmet Walsh, who played the gross/tres creepy detective in Blood Simple, would have been a shoe in to play recent government official/cat stew poisoner.

Okay, its a fish and not a moggie

Finally, thanks to Lisa for mentioning the documentary Blind Shaft. Here is an overview from The Guardian.

6 Responses to “Hu Plays His Last Card”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Hey, thanks for the shout out! I was going to get into this on the thread but didn’t want to go that far afield — the problem is, Zhang Yimou would never be allowed to make that movie legally in the PRC. Doing a story about contemporary corruption, suggesting that it’s endemic? No way. That’s why you see so many period dramas, and why most contemporary stories are comedies, unless they’re done without SARFT’s permission.

    RAISE THE RED LANTERN was a great commentary on oppression, cloaked in a period setting.

    Have you seen BLIND SHAFT? Now that is an awesome recent film. Done “underground” in every sense of the word.

  2. kingtubby1 Says:

    Unfortunately my knowledge of Chinese cinema is close to zero. All my long tour of duty in China developed was a deep interest in Japanese movies, esp of the lowbrow yakuza variety circa 60s – to 80s.

    Seijun Suzuki, Hasebe and Fukasabu

    Plus Mizoguchi for a high art antidote


  3. Lisa Says:

    BLIND SHAFT is an amazing film. Noir meets documentary realism. Tightly scripted, shot on hi def video I believe. A mix of professional and amateur actors (it’s not a documentary but has that feeling at times).

    And totally watch RAISE THE RED LANTERN. Zhang Yimou has made some brilliant films. That’s why it is so hard for me to condemn the choices he’s made more recently…it’s a terribly difficult position to be in as an artist, and lord knows working in Hollywood, I’ve seen all kinds of creative compromises. They are just for different reasons.

    Back when I ran a film/TV studio research library, I would have been running for those Japanese yakuza films! We had an awesome DVD library. One of my favorite parts of the job was creating that and adding to it.

  4. kingtubby1 Says:

    Lisa, thanks for sorting me there re Blind Shaft.

    If you are ever tempted to write some paragraphs on what you regard as must-see-Chinese-movies, you have a welcoming platform here.

    Watched the plot-silly Tokyo Drifter again the other night, and felt like throwing out my clothes wardrobe afterwards and beginning again with some really sharp suits.

    I just love cinema stuff. Cheers KT

  5. Lisa Says:

    Thanks! Now that I’m not working in filmTV (well, not the same way) I am trying to get back into film. While I was there, it just felt like busman’s holiday.

  6. NiubiCowboy Says:

    Great recommendations, Lisa! I’d also throw in…
    –Chen Kaige’s directorial debut Yellow Earth
    –Jia Zhangke’s Still Life
    –Zhang Yimou’s Story of Qiu Ju wherein Gong Li plays a peasant woman trying to work her way through China’s legal system in the early 90s trying to extract an official apology from the village chief who injured her husband when he kicked him in the groin.

    It’s been years since I’ve seen Tokyo Drifter. Apart from that and a few contemporary films like Sonatine and Ichi the Killer, I haven’t seen any older Yakuza films. Now I’ll have somewhere to start!

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