Drawing the News: Aircraft Carrier Style

The launch of China’s J-15 fighter jet from its new aircraft carrier has sparked an Internet sensation. The self-assured hand signal of the flight deck crew members has been mimicked all over the Chinternet and is now dubbed “aircraft carrier style” (航母style), in homage to Gangnam style.

The trend even came to the attention of the U.S. Naval Air Forces, who seized the chance to take a jab at China’s novice status in the aircraft carrier club:

Chinese political cartoonists have caught on, too, tackling more serious issues with this lighthearted meme:

Artist: Dashix

“Soar!” a corrupt official exhorts a hungry student, clinging to his “nutritious lunch” as he pads down the runway. The Yangcheng Evening News reported on Monday that the school system in Fenghuang County, Hunan saves about six million yuan per year by spending only two yuan per student on lunches of the allocated three. Children get only a box of milk and a palm-sized piece of bread [zh]. The school system claims it is following government regulation on expenditures. In Dashix’s illustration, the tear in a boy’s eye gets an official drooling.

Artist: Gouben

A victorious mistress lets a government seal fly as she stands on top of Chongqing official Lei Zhengfu while training a tape recorder on him. Screenshots of sex tapes surfaced this week, costing Lei his job and possibly implicating former city police chief Wang Lijun. Peering over his mistress’ bra, Lei is horrified to find his own government seal is now impotent.

Artist: so7os

China’s conscience was rattled this month by the death of five boys in Guizhou. Missing for weeks, their bodies were found in a dumpster, where they had died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the fire they lit inside. “Brothers, it’s nice and warm in here!” says a younger boy, in a tragic flight of fancy. “Let’s sleep–I’m closing the cabin door. This is our spaceship!” The “Guizhou Five” remind many Chinese of the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Little Match Girl,” once taught to schoolchildren as an example of the evils of capitalist society. The dumpster displays the slogan, “Everyone pitch in and fight to be civilized” (人人动手参 个个争当文明).

Artist: Pearl Forest

Politicians “speak south and head north.”

Artist: Lao Jue

In his opening remarks at the 18th Party Congress, Hu Jintao stressed that China should “not walk the old path of the closed and rigid, nor the evil path of changing flags and allegiances” (既不走封闭僵化的老路、也不走改旗易帜的邪路) “We Are Walking on the Correct Path” (我们走在正路上) shows seven naked men march proudly across a narrow bridge. They are the new seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, which debuted at the end of the Congress. Chinese cartoonists typically cannot depict political leaders in print, but Lao Jue is afforded a wider latitude by the Internet.

Artist: Kuang Biao

Lao Jue makes China’s journey across the river seem like a lark, but in Kuang Biao’s depiction, Xi Jinping is struggling with the hammer and sickle over one shoulder and the burden of the economy over the other while “groping for stones to cross the river” (摸着石头过河).

Artist: Jiu’an

Xi Jinping prays before jailed tweeter Zhai Xiaobing (aka @stariver), his Standing Committee zombies in tow. Zhai was detained on November 7 for a tweet comparing Final Destination 6 to the 18th Party Congress. “Dear Lord, we beg you to free Star River… Boo hoo… Black humor, this cartoon is just kidding!”