Chinese state media outlet Xinhua released an English-language parody video on Tuesday taking aim at U.S. and British fears about tech giant Huawei. And it’s one of those things that’s both extremely awkward and incredibly fascinating.
The video, which was published on Twitter and YouTube, features two intelligence agent characters from Britain who attempt to parody James Bond, along with some Wayne’s World catchphrases for good measure.
In the video, the two intel agents meet at a castle to get their instructions from “M,” who has a new “single greatest priority” for the western spies. The male agent, known as James Pond (get it?), speculates that maybe Julian Assange has escaped from prison or Edward Snowden has been arrested.
While they’re waiting, one of the agents casually talks about spying by the National Security Agency. She also mentions that “China” has advanced propaganda capabilities, something that’s revealed to actually be done by the U.S. during a hokey reveal when she flips over a folder to reveal the letters “USA.”
The Pond spy character also keeps saying “exSQUEEZE me,” which was a catchphrase from the SNL character Wayne Campbell in the Wayne’s World movies from the 1990s. It’s not clear why the spy character keeps saying a catchphrase from 30 years ago, but Wayne is played by Mike Myers, who was also in the Austin Powers movies, a parody of the James Bond films. Maybe the producers of this video got confused and thought Austin Powers says “exqueeze me?” too? He also says “Yabba Dabba Doo” at one point, Fred Flintstone’s catchphrase, so who knows? It’s all extremely confusing.
When the agents finally talk to “M,” he tells James Pond not to buy a Huawei phone. When Pond asks why, he discovers that his handlers have been spying on him.
“So why not Huawei?” James Pond asks, before learning about American concerns over backdoors. But the other agent, known as 0.06, reveals there’s no actual evidence of backdoors and it’s all a sinister propaganda campaign led by the western intelligence agencies.
Huawei has been under attack by western governments which believe the company’s technology could be compromised by the Chinese government. American authorities have been light on the details for how China would theoretically instigate an attack on U.S. communications infrastructure, but last month there were reports Chinese spies successfully penetrated Australian networks in 2012 using a Huawei software update, according to Bloomberg News. It’s the kind of claim that’s incredibly difficult to independently confirm, of course.
By the end of the video, both agents are given CIA-certified phones, which are quite obviously bugged. You really have to watch the video to appreciate just how forced and weird the whole thing is.
China clearly views tech spying hypocrisy as a weak point for the U.S. in the New Cold War. Back in February of 2019, an executive for Huawei made a similar line of attack at the Mobile World Congress, pointing to revelations from Edward Snowden as a reason not to believe U.S. authorities when it comes to spying allegations.
Chinese state media’s English-language propaganda has gotten more and more weird over the past couple of years. In May of 2020, Xinhua released a cartoon character called Terry-cotta to counter claims China was hoarding PPE near the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. And Xinhua has more recently released rapping videos about American hypocrisy.
No one knows what 2022 holds for the New Cold War between the U.S. and China, but if today’s release is any guide, we can probably bet it will be filled with plenty of weird propaganda videos.