A young Chinese Communist Party official pulls out his phone on the work bus and opens the Rejuvenation No. 1 app.
The man is the star of a advertisement encouraging officials to sign up in the app for a nationwide quiz on Xi’s personal ideology. So far this summer, 700,000 party members out of nearly 97 million have logged into the app daily to take part in trying to remember what Xi said about, well, almost everything.
To reach the final next month, they must accurately answer hundreds of multiple-choice questions like: In modern China, the essence of patriotism is resolutely loving the nation and the party and being very united in . Is the answer A) loving socialism, B) seeking progress, C) daring to take responsibility, or D) honing our ability to struggle? (It was a.)
The quiz is the last avenue for mass displays of political loyalty and fervor to Xi, who has secured more personal power than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong and began an unconventional third term as president in March.
In April, he launched a Marxist study campaign centered on his personal ideology, with a modern twist. Since then, everyone from tech company employees to college students has been trained in Xi Thought, in classes taught in apps, on game shows, and during exams.
During his first decade in power, Xi developed a philosophy, officially known as the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
It is less a clear theory than a sprawling collection of almost every statement attributed to him, with the exception of embarrassing early writings and speeches on topics such as censorship and the Tiananmen Square protests.
Every leader of the People’s Republic has had similar ideologies that are meant to guide the party and the nation. But Xi’s version emphasizes his personal leadership role and encapsulates his vision of a reinvigorated, unified and loyal party leading China to a dominant position on the world stage.
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The process of gamifying study sessions began in 2019 with the launch of the Xuexi Qiangguo app, a name that could mean either studying for a strong nation or studying Xi for a strong nation.
There has since been a proliferation of platforms on Xi Thought.
But it is not only the leaders of the Communist Party who must worry about knowing their socialisms from their struggles. At some companies, people who do poorly in Xi study apps could find themselves facing more scrutiny in performance reviews.
It’s everywhere. It seeped into society, said Olivia Cheung, a researcher at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
This effort to integrate ideology into everyday affairs is seen in the proliferation of platforms like Rejuvenation No. 1.
The app was developed by the Bank of China and the Zhejiang Provincial Government Working Committee, with content provided by one of the party’s theoretical journals.
Will the prize winners be announced after the final in July? A combination of spiritual and material rewards given to you and your Communist Party work unit, as well as being named in major party newspapers, according to an official announcement.
Apart from the quiz, the app allows people to pay their party membership fees and connect with other executives across the country and the world, making it useful for public companies, hospitals and private companies, boast its developers.
But the creation of Ideology 2.0 spawned all sorts of efforts to cheat the system. A new online industry has emerged where people offer for a fee to help others increase their rejuvenation app scores.
Others shared questions and answers online for free.
Thank you thank you thank you, keep updating [the doc], All right? someone replied to an answer provider.
Some contestants expressed dismay after reaching the semi-finals. It was not easy to keep answering questions for more than 20 days. I was about to throw away my review papers, when I was told I had reached the semi-finals, wrote one user. Now there will be 15 more days of answering questions on so many topics that I can’t memorize them all.
Chinese communist leaders have long promoted party building by essentially ensuring that everyone understands the tasks handed down from above. Mao did it with his little red book, but Xi encouraged the creation of smart parties, with improved tools like these apps. This has been particularly visible since March, when Xi entered his third term and piled the upper echelons of leadership with his cronies.
The Communist Party’s tight control over what is shared and posted online means it can make material about Xi hugely popular even if it wouldn’t otherwise defend itself against cat videos and celebrity gossip.
We live in a time when the propaganda machine can treat this content as viral, even if it is the least viral content there is, said David Bandurski, director of the China Media Project, a research group.
It started with the study of an application for a strong nation. It’s a very different little red book. Its algorithmic. It’s gamified. If you’re a local Shanghai government official, for example, you should use the app, Bandurski said.
Other local governments have followed in the footsteps of Zhejiang and the Rejuvenation No. 1 app. The Shandong government has created a platform called Lighthouse Online Party Building which is used for a similar competition.
Building smart parties also manifests itself in other ways. This month, the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, promoted its proofreading platform.
The latest tool of the Chinese influence campaign: the police on social networks?
The service allows users to upload documents or images to ensure they are politically correct. Image recognition helps identify officials who have fallen out of favor and should be removed or other content like flags and emblems considered sensitive, according to the platforms’ advertisements.
There are also paper alternatives to prove devotion to the leader. At least seven books dedicated to Xi were published in April alone, including a study guide, two volumes of selected works and a short volume on the self-revolution needed to prepare the party for the big test. rough waters and rough seas.
Knowing about Xi’s work is increasingly necessary to move forward, even for those who are not Communist Party apparatchiks. Questions about his theories are increasingly appearing in professional exams for journalists, teachers and lawyers.
Prompts for the college entrance exam, essential for success in modern China, now often feature words from Xi.
This year marked the first time the test papers named Xi directly, unlike previous years where his lyrics were used as test prompts without revealing their source.
A recent prompt began with a quote from a Xi speech with clear anti-American themes: One won’t be seen in a more favorable light after blowing out the lamps of others; nor will they go further by blocking other paths, Xi said then.
Students were asked to reflect on how Xi used vivid language to declare a universal truth. Nothing in the prompt suggested that a dissenting opinion would be welcome.
Pei-Lin Wu and Vic Chiang in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.
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