China’s ideologically committed leaders have long been wary of what they consider the malign influence of Hollywood culture on its youth. This week’s events will surely provide more ammo for their cause. Inspired by the recent “retirements” of pop and film sensations Justin Bieber and Shia LeBoeuf, China’s “Jade Rabbit” lunar probe decided to pack it all in and shut down – the strain of stardom as the nation’s first moon robot was all too much.
However, just a few days after national outpouring of grief hit the social media sphere, Jade Rabbit decided it was time for a comeback, tweeting “Hi, is anybody out there?” this week to millions of jubilant fans in an act of dramatic tension sorely lacking in Chinese films and TV shows. But there are huge consequences for its actions.
Now that the People’s Liberation Army knows that Jade Rabbit isn’t lost in the lunar wonderland, it won’t need a special high-value mapping service that tech giant Alibaba was pitching to find the rabbit. The Hangzhou-based firm said this week it wanted to buy the 72% of Chinese mapping company AutoNavi that does not already own to get its hands on the neccessary technology.
More significantly, the Rabbit’s primadona-like behaviour led to China reversing a decades-long policy of grain self-sufficiency. Aware that the country doesn’t have enough land to grow all the food it needs, policymakers were planning to start up huge farms on the moon and ship the produce back to earth. With no robot and thus no way of mapping arable lunar land they grudgingly accepted to allow imports to play a bigger role in feeding the people.
Officials and aviation executives are fuming. This week police raided thousands of brothels in the city of Dongguan, China’s “sex capital,” as they traced where the ill-gained proceeds gleaned from the national space program ended up. Apparently military leaders were furious at the failure of the moon probe and thought corruption likely resulted in cheaper parts being used in the robot.
Maybe that will teach the youth of today’s China not to ape their entertainment idols.