The Chinese People's Liberation Army has a simple message for potential recruits: We're cool.
A promotional video released on the PLA newspaper's website last week hammers home this point by showing explosions, shootouts, jet planes, hostage situations and unidentified men being wounded, all set to loud rap music and hard rock-esque guitars.
Chinese state media has proudly called it the "first hip-hop video made by the PLA," and it certainly does appear to be a shift from previous videos, which featured somewhat similar visuals but tended to be accompanied by sweeping orchestral scores.
However, the rap's lyrics may cause some of China's neighbors concern. China Daily reports that the lyrics were "carefully worded to avoid being too aggressive," but the video contains the lines "Let’s go to war, let’s fight to win" and discusses how the PLA will keep on fighting "even if a bullet passes through my chest." The title of the video isn't subtle, either: “Battle Declaration”
The footage also shows off a variety of modern PLA military hardware, including the J-11 fighter jet, the Liaoning aircraft carrier, and a number of spacecraft and satellites.
This isn't the first time that a recruitment video for the PLA has used music to make its point. In 2014, it released a video featuring PLA members dancing to "Little Apple," a popular though cheesy pop song created by the Beijing-based producers Chopstick Brothers.
Another recruitment video, this one from last year, was more notable for including footage of the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea — a hot spot for tensions in the region as they are separately claimed by China, Japan and Taiwan. The PLA has also released footage that showed Chinese soldiers attempting to storm what appeared to be a replica of Taiwan’s presidential palace.
While the new video may show off a bombastic, confident vision of the PLA, its creation may at least partly be prompted by an insecurity. A variety of factors, including China's one-child policy and its rapidly growing economy, have left many young citizens with little interest in joining the PLA, long considered a key pillar of Communist Party rule and one of the largest armies in the world, with an active force of more than 2 million.
Speaking at a news conference to announce the video, Col. Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said that men should remember that their youth is not just about being cool and that young Chinese have a responsibility to protect the nation's security.
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