A Chinese cartoon comparing Xi Jinping's ascent to power with that of Barack Obama has gone viral, leaving Internet users asking Friday whether it is a subtle piece of animated propaganda.

The Chinese-language video, which uses pictures of politicians on cartoon bodies, has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times since it was released Monday on Youku, a popular video-sharing website in China, where YouTube is banned.

An English-language version has been watched almost 22,000 times.

The cartoon presents a view of the different paths to leadership in China, the United States and Britain, but makes only fleeting reference to the fact that the latter two are multi-party democracies with competitive elections.

The hard work involved in the climb to China's presidency is like "the training of a kung fu master", it says.

"As long as people are satisfied and the country develops and progresses as a result, it's working," the narrator states.

In the US, according to the video, becoming president is tougher than winning "American Idol", involving "a super-complex business" in which candidates must put together a campaign team, deliver speeches and raise money.

"Without a glib tongue, extraordinary stamina and, most importantly, an unending flow of greenbacks, no one can ever pull through it," notes the narrator, over an image of Obama and his vanquished rival Mitt Romney sitting on piles of dollar bills.

The path to becoming British prime minister, the video goes on, includes ascending to the leadership of one's political party and then clinching a parliamentary majority.

"That chance is way narrower than Susan Boyle had at winning 'Britain's Got Talent'," says the narrator, as the video contrasts British Prime Minister David Cameron with the distinctive talent show contestant.

In China, the video says, "you must also get to the top of the governing party, but here, we're talking about a party of more than 85 million members".

There are "decades of selections and tests" involved, and candidates can come from professions as varied as journalism, education, and industry, according to the animation -- which at that point depicts an all-male line-up of cartoon figures, all holding little red books.

The five minute clip traces Xi's path to power from local to city and then provincial leadership, and eventually to Communist Party general secretary and president, a process through which he "experienced 16 major job transfers and governed a cumulative population of over 150 million over 40-plus years".

The video was posted by a user with the name "Fuxinglushang" which could either mean "the road to rejuvenation" in Chinese, or be an indirect reference to a street in Beijing where state broadcaster China Central Television has an office.

"Is this an official government propaganda video?" asked one online user.

 

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