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Daily Drip

Nationalism, Dumplings and Farting Fish: Chinese State Media Launches Answer to TikTok

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China Media Group, the government agency that controls television and radio broadcasting, has launched a short video app called Yang Video (央视频), or Central Video. It’s primarily focused on news, but it feels strangely similar to TikTok.

Today, prominently featured videos include a nationalistic montage of military personnel at the recent National Day Parade, a culinary piece on dumplings that look absolutely delicious, an animation explainer on fish that fart, and a juicy segment of Ode to Joy (欢乐颂), a TV series about five women who live in the same apartment building in Shanghai.

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Videos on Yang Video seem to range from about 30 seconds long to several minutes. The 5G-powered app is an attempt by China Media Group to reach younger audiences. It features clips from state propaganda network CCTV, as well as videos from independent vloggers and film and streaming companies such as Tencent, iQIYI, Youku, and Wanda Pictures.

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One popular figure to join the app is Kang Hui, a CCTV anchor known for his role on daily news show Xinwen Lianbo. Kang’s vlogging has become popular in showing a news anchor in a more casual and fun light, rather than the stoic personality shown on daily news coverage.

In promoting the short video platform, the Chinese government seems to be trying to emulate social media companies like TikTok that have used the medium of short-form video to attract huge user bases. As radio and television fade from common usage, and attention spans dwindle, the best way for the government to reach the next generation seems to be brief video clips. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Zach Hollo
    J. Zach Hollo is a RADII contributor currently based in Guangzhou. He recently competed a master's degree in international affairs at National Chengchi University in Taipei, where he studied as a Fulbright scholar. Before that, he taught English in China's Hunan and Henan provinces. As an undergraduate, he attended Northwestern University's campus in Doha, Qatar, where he majored in journalism.