The modernization of state media content blurs the line between entertainment and publicity

“There is in fact no such thing as art for art’s sake…art that is detached from or independent of politics,” said Chairman Mao at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art in 1942.

Yet while socialist realism is no longer the order of the day in Chinese arts, mainstream television, music, and commercial entertainment are by no means easy to distinguish from art for political purposes—and one foreign rapper recently became the unintended casualty of state media’s content modernization.

“Another Day in China,” a “lighthearted” music video about being a foreigner in Beijing, was filmed in December by The Foreigners Research Institute, a social media content-creation startup. Originally published on The Foreigners’ Weibo page, the video was reposted by Xinhua two days later on their YouTube channel, and the backlash began.

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Hip Hop-aganda? is a story from our issue, “The Noughty Nineties.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


Alexander Cecil McNab is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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