(Screenshot of the video from sina.com.cn)

BEIJING – A cheesy musical tribute to Chinese President Xi Jinping and the “legendary” love he shares with his wife is reported to have gone viral online, but has been widely mocked by Netizens as sycophantic and cringeworthy.

The song, whose title roughly translates as “Uncle Xi loves Mother Peng,” is the latest manifestation of a growing personality cult around China’s leader, which is expanding to take in his glamorous wife, Peng Liyuan.

[You can watch the music video here.]

The People’s Daily newspaper said the song had gleaned 22 million hits online in less than a week. In a video, the music is accompanied by still photographs and cartoon images of the couple together, complete with superimposed hearts. There is even a brief burst of children singing and a terrible guitar solo in the middle.

It was sung by two ambitious artists from central Henan province, who said they hoped to be invited to perform it on a very widely watched show on state television celebrating the Spring Festival next year.

"The chemistry between the couple has impressed many Netizens and it inspired my partner and I to write this song," singer Yu Runze told the People’s Daily.

Since taking power, Xi has simultaneously sought to portray himself both as a tough leader and as a man of the people, with a visit to a steamed bun shop and a trip to mingle with ordinary people on the streets of Beijing on a smoggy day last year designed to show him as more approachable than some of his predecessors.

His campaign against official corruption appears to be popular among Chinese people, although the sycophancy that increasingly surrounds him may be less so.

"In our song, the stereotype image of a serious political leader has been changed into someone who can connect with ordinary people,” the other singer, Xu An, told local media. “This will make people have an emotional connection to the couple."

His wife Peng was a famous singer with the People’s Liberation Army before marrying Xi, and her glamorous image has also been used to humanize her husband’s.

At the recent APEC summit in Beijing, a short clip of her waving to the crowd and then glancing at her husband – who immediately started waving too, as if at her command – was also widely discussed online and seen as a sign of the influence she has over him. This week, she was compared by People’s Daily to Hua Mulan, a legendary Chinese girl-warrior famous for disguising herself as a man to take her father’s place in the army, who later became mythologized in a Disney movie.

Netizens appeared much less enthusiastic about the song than state media, with comments like “disgusting rubbish” and “shameless lackeys” lighting up the Internet. Some compared the song to “The East is Red,” a song praising Mao Zedong that became China’s unofficial national anthem during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

“Are we coming back to the era of creating a hero and asking everyone to worship him?” asked @jianzong_9509, posting on weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

“Childish culture goes viral around country,” another user wrote, in a post subsequently deleted by censors. “If it happens once or twice, you could say it’s coincidence but it happens everyday. I’m afraid it shows the taste of current emperor."

In October, Xi urged artists to create more works that were “morally inspiring” and “embodied socialist core values” in a speech that was reminiscent of one delivered by Mao in 1942 that had recommended that art serve the Party.

Here is an approximate translation of the song lyrics:

Xi Dada loves Peng Mama

China has a Xi Dada,
No matter how strong the tiger is, He dares to fight it,

He is totally fearless,
People are dying to meet him, even in their dreams.

China also has a Peng Mama,
Give her the most beautiful flowers.

Pray for her and bless her,
Happy family, flourishing country, harmonious world.

Xi Dada loves Peng Mama,
Their love is legendary.

Peng Mama loves Xi Dada,
The realm with love is the strongest!

Men should learn from Xi Dada,
Women should learn from Peng Mama,

Love like they do,
Love can warm thousands of families.

Men should learn from Xi Dada,
Women should learn from Peng Mama.

Love like they do,
People with love can win the world!

Here’s a kind of love that Xi Dada gives to Peng Mama,
When they are together, he always looks at her with happy smiles.

Here’s a kind of love that Peng Mama gives to Xi Dada,
Holding his hand, her smile is the most beautiful flower.