• Chinese President Xi Jinping's regime has renewed efforts to instill patriotism in China's newest generation
  • A media blitz through social media and cartoons has proven more effective than older methods
  • Efforts have extended to higher education, where the CCP has strengthened its grip on university curriculums

China has a long history of focusing on the political education of new generations. Under the guidance of President Xi Jinping, however, the Chinese Communist Party has turned to social media and cartoons to instill sympathetic attitudes in the nation’s children.

Pro-China propaganda has become the norm in recent years. A multi-pronged effort to spread nationalistic sentiment across the internet has found great success through appealing imagery and sheer scale.

The Chinese Communist Youth League updated its practices in 2016, expanding onto more social media sites to focus on youth outreach. Its video account on Chinese social media platform Bilibili rivals that of CNN on YouTube, despite Bilibili’s comparatively small reach.

An example of the new style of propaganda is a children’s cartoon called Year Hare Affair, which depicts international events with a heavy pro-China bias using animals to represent countries. Cute Chinese rabbits are placed in opposition to the villainous American bald eagle, surprising him with the development of an atom bomb or foiling his plot to destabilize Hong Kong with the help of scheming cockroaches.

When Year Hare Affair was just an independent webcomic, its creator Lin Chao wasn’t sure the government would approve of media likely to inflame foreigners. That quickly changed after the first season garnered over 100 million views and the military and police stepped in to co-produce recent episodes.

The message is mostly simple to understand. Data indicates that basic narratives paired with good production value have worked for the CCP. A national study by researchers at Shanzi University indicated that those born after 1998 are more patriotic than previous generations.

An online survey of around 600 teens found words like “lucky” and “satisfied” to describe their Chinese upbringing in more than 90% of responses. It’s a marked departure from their parents and grandparents, many of whom viewed China as underdeveloped.

Higher learning institutions have also been co-opted to ensure that the pipeline of political education continues into adulthood. Universities have changed their charters to place loyalty to the party over all other priorities, and the government struck “independent thought” from the list of values schools are meant to instill under the Law for the Protection of Minors.