China’s state news agency, Xinhua News, has released a bizarre James Bond-themed parody video mocking the US and UK’s crackdown on Huawei. It really needs to be seen to be believed. The English-language video was spotted by Gizmodo and has been released both on Xinhua’s New China TV YouTube channel as well as its China Xinhua News Twitter account, with both accounts carrying a warning about their affiliations with the Chinese state.
I mean, where do we even start with this video. There’s the fact that our protagonist is called James Pond, in what appears to be an unwitting reference to the series of ’90s video games based on an anthropomorphic mudskipper of the same name. Or what about the fact that one secret agent is supposedly doing an American accent while the other is doing a British accent, despite the fact that their accents are basically identical.
Or the line “that’s bloody outrageous.”
Or the fact that not once but twice, James Pond uses the catchphrase “ExSQUEEZE me,” which Gizmodo points out appears to be a reference not to James Bond but Mike Myers’ character Wayne from Wayne’s World rather than anything related to the spy franchise this video is ostensibly parodying.
Or the fact that the video references two western leaders by name — the UK’s David Cameron and Germany’s Angela Merkel — both of whom are no longer in charge of their respective countries. Cameron resigned back in 2016!
Of course, the point of the video is less about trying to make sense and more about pushing an anti-US, pro-China narrative about Huawei. There’s a moment where a warning about China’s “National Security Agency” is revealed to actually be referring to the work of the USA’s NSA (a Huawei exec used a similar attack line during 2019’s MWC) and concerns about Huawei devices containing security backdoors are dismissed because there’s no “shred of evidence.”
What the video ignores is that many of the security concerns surrounding Huawei have focussed not on backdoors that are being actively exploited but on poor cybersecurity practices that could enable a future attack. A 2019 report from the UK’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) Oversight Board, for example, raised concerns about Huawei’s “basic engineering competence and cyber security hygiene.” The parody also makes no mention of Huawei’s alleged role in building technology for labor and reeducation camps in China’s Xinjiang region, nor the reports about its work on a facial recognition system to surveil Uighurs.
After several years of sanctions that have prevented it from acquiring much of the software and hardware it needs to make modern devices, Huawei’s consumer business is in a sorry state. Its latest flagship, the P50 Pro, is yet to release outside of China, and even there, it released as a 4G-only device. In China, Huawei has fallen behind competitors like Vivo and Oppo in terms of smartphone sales after previously having outsold them in its home market.
Anyway, none of that’s really important in the context of this parody, which I promise you still makes zero sense even if you’re completely up to date on the Huawei situation. Just sit back and let the fever dream wash over you.