TIME — “The red dragon ain’t no evil,” raps Chuckie, referring to his native China, “but a beautiful place.” To scenes of cuddly pandas, spewing smokestacks and goose-stepping soldiers holding aloft a Chinese flag, the English-language music video for “This Is China” begins with a mission to “restore the impression you have of my country, China, which have been [sic] exactly fabricated by media for such a long time.”
The offending media, in case it isn’t clear, are foreign, says Chuckie, whose real name is Wang Zixin. “I would like to tell Westerners that young people in China are not foolish,” the 22-year-old recent college graduate tells TIME. “We know the good and bad in China. It is just that some problems cannot be solved immediately. I want to change Westerners’ stereotypes about us.”
Although the rap song was the brainchild of Wang’s ensemble CD Rev — lyrics by Pissy (no, seriously) and beats by Chuckie — the music video was produced with help from a studio run by the Communist Youth League of China.
“This Is China” fits into a campaign by China’s ruling party to soften its image amid overseas criticism of Beijing’s muscular foreign policy and domestic human-rights crackdown. In recent months, government-linked studios have released videos featuring everything from a cartoon Chinese President Xi Jinping playing whack-a-mole with corrupt officials to an English-language explainer of China’s 13th five-year plan for its economy. Another animated music video included a hip-hop verse that went, “It’s everyone’s dream to build a moderately prosperous society comprehensively.” (The latter is one of Xi’s “four comprehensive” slogans, if not a catchy rhyme.)
The rhymes on “This Is China” are equally wooden — indeed hilarious to foreign ears weaned on a diet of Kanye and Lil Wayne. “As an individual presently based in the southwest of the country,” declaims Wang, in what must be the most unlikely introduction ever to fall from the lips of an MC. “First things first, we all know that China is a developing country,” he continues, as though reading from a textbook. “It has large population [sic] and it is really hard to manage.”
In like manner, “This Is China” then name-checks the wonders of Chinese society, such as ubiquitous payment by mobile phones (even to make appointments with doctors!) and strict gun control that prevents “gun slaughtering.” Scientific achievements also make it into the song, including KBBF crystals used in laser technology and the discovery of malaria treatment aremisinin by Nobel Prize–winning scientist Tu Youyou. “Obviously China is rising, but we have 5,000 years of Confucian education so we are a peace-loving country,” says Wang. “We will not initiate attacks on others.” Click for more www.time.com