New Video Celebrates Chinese Missiles With Old-School Communist Pomp

Trumpets sound and trombones blare as a warhead launches. Intercontinental ballistic missiles mounted on trucks parade down the center of a boulevard crowded with bystanders. “We are the glorious Rocket Force,” a mixed choir sings in a Soviet-sounding anthem.

It could easily be North Korea’s latest ode to its growing missile capabilities. But this is the opening to a new music video, released on February 12 by the publicity center for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s armed forces. The video extols the newly created PLA Rocket Force, part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s massive reorganization intended to make the PLA a modern fighting force “capable of winning wars.” According to the website of China’s Ministry of National Defense, the Rocket Force is a “core strategic deterrence power,” and part of China’s effort to “build a modern military power system with Chinese characteristics.” The video’s similarity to North Korean propaganda wasn’t lost on many Chinese netizens. “Change the language to Korean and you could sell it to Fatty Kim the Third,” went one popular comment on microblogging platform Weibo, referring to a derogatory nickname for North Korea’s young ruler. Another popular comment complained that the “propaganda level was stuck in the previous century.”

The video is likely aimed at increasing the new Rocket Force’s visibility among China’s 600 million-plus web users, but many outside observers hardly need reminding. China’s missile program made waves abroad in September 2015 when the East Asian giant revealed for the first time its much-rumored Dong Feng anti-ship ballistic missiles, or “carrier-killer” missiles as they’ve been dubbed. Military analysts have said that the missiles could undercut U.S. naval power in the Pacific, as the weapons have a range that could potentially put American warships and aircraft carriers at risk.

Foreign Policy’s translated the lyrics of the video (above):

The Eastern Wind is mighty,
As powerful as a thunderbolt,
We are the glorious Rocket Force

The long sword of a great nation,
Our might shakes the firmament,
We are the Great Wall cast with iron and steel

Obeying the command of the Party
Writing our loyalty with our blood
Forging strategic, powerful strikes
Defending peace and tranquility

A roaring blaze and strong wind shock heaven and earth,
We can win the war and perform great feats.
Onward march, onward march
Heroic Rocket Force!