Propaganda film quietly pulled by Beijing after ZTE ban

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Amazing China is a propaganda film that praises the nation's 'innovative breakthroughs' during the five years under Xi Jinping. Photo: Handout

The propaganda film Amazing China reportedly grossed 470 million yuan (US$74.5 million) since its premiere in March, thanks to orders from Beijing ensuring prime slots and showing times, so it could be watched by virtually all Communist Party members and government employees across the nation.

High school and college students were also asked to go to cinemas to watch the propaganda flick, which trumpets the great achievements and triumphs in innovation and infrastructure development within the past five years since Xi Jinping took charge in China.

Yet it appears that officials have quietly pulled the film, according to leaked memos sent last week to operators of cinemas and websites that host videos. The memos have raised questions on whether the film, distributed by China Film Co Ltd under the auspices of the party’s publicity department, has anything to do with the recent export ban slapped on China’s ZTE Corp by the US Commerce Department.

The Shenzhen-based telecom and communications giant is among a slew of Chinese startups, innovators and private and state-owned conglomerates that featured in the film, for grabbing a growing share of the global market from overseas rivals on industrial and technological fronts.

Photo: Reuter/Bobby Yip

ZTE Corp has been banned from importing chips and other parts from the US for seven years. Photo: Reuter/Bobby Yip

The fact that ZTE, a national pride depicted in the propaganda film, has been singled out by the US and now finds itself in a precarious situation due to an embargo obstructing it from continuing to import US-made chips, semiconductors and flash memories, is an embarrassment that debunks Beijing’s boasts of advances in innovation and technology.

Amazing China is no longer available in cinemas or on leading video platforms in China.

Some Chinese netizens wonder if other companies and their products touted in the movie, like Huawei, Alibaba, HikVision, etc, may fall victim to more sanctions and claims that they endanger US national security, and if these paragons of Chinese innovation also rely solely on core components and technology imported from the US.

But not all party cadres are braggarts. Miao Yu, China’s Minister for Industry and Information Technology, admitted during this year’s annual parliamentary session that efforts to upgrade the country’s manufacturing sector was an onerous task and that Chinese manufacturers and innovators generally lag far behind their counterparts in the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea.

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