Culture Magazine

How the Chinese Communist Party is Using Digital Tech to Promulgate Ideology

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
David Bandurski, The Dawn of the Little Red Phone, China Media Project, Feb 15, 2019:
How can, and how will, the Party leverage digital technology to re-program propaganda in the 21st century?
Already this year we have witnessed one product that provides at least part of the answer, a prime example of how the Party can leverage digital media products to reshape the whole process of ideological control in ways that are far more personal, and far more effective, than anything we have witnessed in the reform era. As the People’s Daily reported on January 15: “On New Year’s Day, many Party members and cadres found to their delight that ‘Xi Study Strong Nation,’ an authoritative and content-rich platform especially for theoretical study, had formally been launched,” the official People’s Daily reported on January 15.
Skirting past this questionable assertion about the delight Party members have derived from this new app, what exactly are we talking about here?
Available at the website, the “Xi Study Strong Nation” app is tool by means of which, once installed, the Party can assert its ideological and intellectual authority over Party members and employees of Party-run institutions, including schools and media. Beyond making Party messages passively available, as Party newspapers and state controlled media have done for decades, the app commands engagement, by which users can earn “Xi Study Points” (学习积分). Once engagement with the app is enforced by administrative demands that it be installed and used, something that is already happening, the messages of the Party become inescapable. [...]
The platform has been designed with a built-in “Xi Study Points” system (学习积分系统) that allows users to accumulate points on the basis of habitual use of the platform, from reading and viewing of content to the posting of comments and other forms of engagement. It has been widely promoted by local governments and ministries and departments across China, and there have also been reports that some work units have ordered employees to attain specified point levels, with disciplinary measures to be imposed for those who fail to comply. [...]
Consider how the “Xi Study Strong Nation” point system is engineered and you realize that the advancement of the platform is about the real and measurable engagement, and thereby domination, of the individual within the broader Party-led system.
The app defines several periods of activity as “lively intervals,” or huoyue shiduan (活跃时段), during which users engaging with the platform can earn double points — 0.2 for each article or video, 2 points for a full 30 minutes of use, and so on. The intervals are Monday through Friday from 8:30 PM to 10 PM, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM, and 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM. The system, then, incentivises Party members, once home from the office and done with family dinner, to spend golden hours of otherwise discretionary personal time engaging with “Xi Jinping Thought.”
H/t Tyler Cowen.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog