Chinese PR video of air strike crash-lands on social media

Weibo users pour scorn on PLA propaganda that splices clips from Hollywood movies

China's air force has released a video showing nuclear-capable H-6 bombers carrying out a simulated attack on what appears to be Andersen Air Force Base on the US Pacific island of Guam.
US military planes parked on the tarmac of Andersen Air Force base on the island of Guam, a US Pacific Territory, in 2017. China is locked with the US in a power struggle over defence, technology, trade, disputed seas and the status of Hong Kong and
US military planes parked on the tarmac of Andersen Air Force base on the island of Guam, a US Pacific Territory, in 2017. China is locked with the US in a power struggle over defence, technology, trade, disputed seas and the status of Hong Kong and Taiwan.PHOTO: REUTERS
US military planes parked on the tarmac of Andersen Air Force base on the island of Guam, a US Pacific Territory, in 2017. China is locked with the US in a power struggle over defence, technology, trade, disputed seas and the status of Hong Kong and
China's air force released a video last Saturday showing warplanes (above) carrying out a simulated attack on what appears to be a US air base in Guam. PHOTO: PEOPLE'S LIBERATION ARMY AIR FORCE/WEIBO
China's air force released a video last Saturday showing warplanes (left) carrying out a simulated attack (below) on what appears to be a US air base in Guam. PHOTOS: PEOPLE'S LIBERATION ARMY AIR FORCE/WEIBO
China's air force released a video last Saturday showing warplanes carrying out a simulated attack (above) on what appears to be a US air base in Guam. PHOTO: PEOPLE'S LIBERATION ARMY AIR FORCE/WEIBO

BEIJING • A high-octane PR video for China's air force has crash-landed on social media after users questioned why the world's second-largest military power spliced clips from Hollywood blockbusters Transformers and The Rock into its own propaganda material.

The video, with 4.72 million views on Weibo and crafted by the Propaganda and Culture Centre of the People's Liberation Army's Air Force, showcases its medium and long-range H-6 bomber.

With a soaring score and high-altitude action shots, the chest-thumping video shows Chinese airmen launching an attack on an island base - which strongly resembles American military facilities in Diego Garcia and Guam - then returning from the successful sortie.

But eagle-eyed social media users in China were quick to spot some glaring plot holes.

The explosive central missile sequences were plucked from three Hollywood movies - Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, The Rock and Hurt Locker - and Weibo users were withering in their scorn for the lack of originality.

"It turned out that our dream of great power was pieced together by editing American film clips," said one user.

"We promote the domestic military aircraft using US Hollywood movie clips, why bother?" said another netizen, while a third said: "It's our nation's promotional video, why don't we use our own images?"

China is locked with the US in a power struggle over defence, technology, trade, disputed seas and the status of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The Pentagon says China already outstrips the US in several areas of defence and wants to double its stockpile of nuclear warheads, claims Beijing furiously denies.

The video, released last Saturday on the People's Liberation Army Air Force Weibo account, came as China carried out a second day of military drills near Chinese-claimed Taiwan to express anger at the visit of a senior US State Department official to Taipei.

The H-6 has been involved in multiple Chinese flights around and near Taiwan, according to Taiwan's air force, including last week, when numerous jets flew across the mid-line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

The H-6K is the latest model of the bomber, which is based on the 1950s vintage Soviet Tu-16.

China's Eastern Theatre Command, which would be in charge of an attack on Taiwan, yesterday released a propaganda video of its own. The video - entitled What if war broke out today? - shows soldiers running in wooded hills and ballistic missiles launching.

"Motherland, I swear I will fight for you until my death!" large golden Chinese characters read at the end of the montage as explosions go off in the background.

Taiwan said yesterday that its armed forces have the right to self-defence and counter-attack amid "harassment and threats", in an apparent warning to China.

Tensions have spiked sharply in recent months between Taipei and Beijing, which claims democratically run Taiwan as its own territory, to be taken by force if needed.

Chinese aircraft crossed the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait to enter the island's air defence identification zone last Friday and Saturday, prompting Taiwan to scramble jets to intercept them, and President Tsai Ing-wen to call China a threat to the region.

In a statement, Taiwan's Defence Ministry said it had "clearly defined" procedures for the island's first response amid "high frequency of harassment and threats from the enemy's warships and aircraft this year".

It also said Taiwan had the right to "self-defence and to counter-attack" and followed the guideline of "no escalation of conflict and no triggering incidents". Taiwan would not provoke, but it was also "not afraid of the enemy", it added.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing: "Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory... The so-called mid-line of the strait does not exist."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2020, with the headline 'Chinese PR video of air strike crash-lands on social media'. Print Edition | Subscribe