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Censors delete Chinese cartoon that takes swipes at public scandals

Posted by Author on January 25, 2011

The creator says it is a fairy tale. But there is nothing cuddly about the bunnies in a new Chinese animation to mark next week’s lunar new year and the arrival of the year of the rabbit.

Combining gruesome, South Park-style violence with swipes at several public scandals – from tainted baby milk to forced demolitions – it culminates with the rabbits overrunning and savaging to death the tigers who have bullied them.

Many interpreted that imagery as downtrodden citizens rising up against the powerful. There was little surprise when censors deleted the cartoon from websites.
The video includes a disclaimer stating that it “has no connection to real life” and the man who says he created it denies that it is satirical.

“I wanted to do something related to the Chinese new year and show it to friends. I wouldn’t call it a political satire. It was just a fairy tale … Living in this country, there are many things that make us think,” said Wang Bo. “Maybe they are afraid of something so they deleted it. I was disappointed [it was taken down], but there is nothing I can do.” He said that no one had contacted him about the animation.

The China Geeks blog, which has translated the cartoon, noted: “It is probably obvious even to those who don’t speak Chinese that this video makes repeated and explicit reference to real-life events.”

Bunnies turn green and explode as they are fed bottled milk, evoking the toxic milk powder scandal that killed at least six children and sickened 300,000 more. Later on, tigers gleefully mow down a rabbit in a scene judged by some viewers to be a reference to the recent death of activist Qian Yunhui.

One of the tigers’ banners reads: “Serve the rabbits. Build a harmonious forest.”

The echoes of the slogan “Serve the people” and President Hu Jintao’s promotion of the “harmonious society” are unmistakable. The video concludes with the observation: “Even rabbits bite when they’re pushed.”

The animation appears to have circulated for two to three days before its removal. “Already been harmonised [censored]. What are they afraid of? Shameful,” wrote one internet user.

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