Wang Yibo just dropped a new track, and it’s far from the usual terrain of romance and brotherly love. Instead, the star is crooning about China’s fourteenth five-year plan for economic and political development.
The song “Youth Comes in Time” was released by Xinhua News, China’s largest state-run media organization, without notice at midnight on February 5th. Wang’s lyrics touch on such relatable subjects as 5G infrastructure and poverty alleviation.
On Weibo, the hashtag is flooded by fans praising the star’s “positive energy” — a buzzy phrase indicating what China’s government wants from its celebrities — while critical comments are buried.
“His popularity matches his positive energy! I hope our country can make good progress in the future,” reads one of the most upvoted fan comments on the post.
“I was so surprised when I saw the production company,” read a different review on Douban Music, questioning the song’s peculiar source. “The lyrics are nothing but a government briefing.”
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“Youth Comes in Time” is not Wang Yibo’s first state-sponsored project. Last year he worked on “The Blood at Dawn,” a soundtrack for an official documentary about Chinese soldiers in the Korean War.
The phenomenon is far from unheard of — state-sponsored projects are seen as a channel for idols to gain public recognition, and solidify a virtuous image. And in an industry where official approval can be the difference between success and catastrophe, maybe it’s not a bad strategy.
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On the same day, the China Association of Performing Arts published a code of conduct for its members, emphasizing the important of ethical behavior and social morality:
“Entertainers are asked to honor social morality and the spirit of the contract and respect their team members and partners, according to the association,” adding that failure to do so could result in a ban.
Cover image: ChinaImages
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