With the Year of the Rabbit set to commence on February 3, 2011 — Chinese New Year — the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has censored a fairytale cartoon in which a community of oppressed rabbits rises up against their oppressive tiger government, which bears a striking resemblance to the government in China.
The cartoon depicts the tale of a village of innocent little bunny rabbits that live in relative comfort and joy when all of a sudden, a shipment of tainted bottled milk causes all of the baby bunnies to turn green and burst to their deaths — a satirical reference to a poisonous milk scandal in China in 2008 which resulted in the deaths of six infants.
Following the deaths of the baby rabbits, the adult rabbits are then forced to sit through a political indoctrination session by a group of militant tigers with red banners in the background that read: “Serve the rabbits. Build a harmonious forest” — again, echoing President Hu Jintao’s promise to establish a “harmonious society.”
The rabbits are then engulfed in flames as the communistic tigers move in on the village, seizing private property, bulldozing homes and brutally suppressing the bunny population, warning them to “not speak out of turn.”
Tanks and other armored vehicles are seen driving over the rabbits, killing them — a possible swipe at the suppression of democratic protestors at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Eventually the rabbits have taken all they can from the government and lead a violent overthrow of the tigers, driving them out of the rabbit village.
The director of the cartoon, Wang Bo, who works for the Beijing-based Hutoon animation studio, explained that the cartoon was as a joke — but the CCP government is not laughing. Though the cartoon lasts only three and half minutes, it was more than enough to solicit a prompt response from the CCP censoring it as “propaganda.”
It seems that the tigers are not the only enemies of the rabbits, as the Chinese government has ordered the rabbits to "not speak out of turn."
Although the cartoon’s creator, "Kirjabing" denies that the cartoon is an allegory to life in the People’s Republic of China, the CCP authorities say otherwise.
In a phone interview with the Wall Street Journal
, on Tuesday, the cartoon's director Wang Bo explained:
I felt this past year was really depressing, so I wanted to create this thing for fun. People need to vent their emotions…. As a member of the general public, I feel unhappy about some things in society and I need to give vent to my unhappiness. Everyone has their own way to express themselves: some go shopping and others wear makeup. For me, I vented by making this video. I thought I could express my feelings this way.
Ai Xiaoming, literature professor at Guangzhou's Zhongshan University in China, expressed his thoughts on to the cartoon to Radio Free Asia
I have seen this cartoon; I thought it was extremely clever. Everything that happens in it is the sort of thing that people today are worrying about. It was made against a background of social realism, and especially the anger depicted. They have turned people's real feelings about events into a whole meaning system. They have managed to express things which people are unable to express in any other way.
The news of the censorship of this cartoon comes a week after President Hu Jintao visited the United States in a Sino-U.S. summit
, and claimed during a state dinner that “China recognizes and also respects the universality of human rights,” conceding, “a lot still needs to be done.”
Free speech, as evident by this incident, is a luxury unavailable to many in the People's Republic of China — where one-party communist rulers have the final authority on what ideas are publicly expressed.