Saturday, 16 May 2015

Meet Cartoon Deng

A cartoon likeness of Deng Xiaoping in a new animated documentary
How did I miss this news earlier this week?

There is a new animated documentary about paramount leader Deng Xiaoping that was released yesterday.

The cartoon Deng appears in about a dozen scenes re-enacting several Chinese historical events as part of the documentary Mr Deng Goes to Washington, about his landmark visit to the United States in 1979 and met then US President Jimmy Carter.

Mixed with the cartoon animation are rare archival footage and interviews.

A scene from Mr Deng Goes to Washington
What's interesting about this film is that Chinese leaders have rarely had their likenesses translated into cartoons, as it was considered politically sensitive or inappropriate for senior leaders to be made into caricatures.

However, after a 24-year-old animation-production student at Beijing Film Academy drew the cartoon Deng, it was presented to his family and given the green light.

In one scene, the Chinese leader visits Siminton, Texas, where the Josey sisters performed a rodeo show for him. At that event Martha Josey rode her horse to the stands where Deng sat and put a white cowboy hat on his head.

But according to the documentary, not many knew that one of the sisters had fallen off a horse that day.

Deng adjusting his cowboy hat given to him by Martha Josey
"Deng Xiaoping was concerned and sent his own doctor to check on her," says director Fu Hongxing. "The sisters have been training on horseback since they were children, so the girl was all right. But they were touched because Deng cared so much about two country-girls in the US. The memory remained in their minds for more than 30 years."

Whether it's blatant propaganda or another soft-power initiative by China, Mr Deng Goes to Washington may spark more interest in the US to learn about its relations with the Middle Kingdom.

Every bit helps as the the US seems to be faltering in its China policy at the moment and needs more bright creative minds to smooth over diplomatic tensions...

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