In China, a new smartphone app seems to be the modern version of Chairman Mao Zedong’s little red book. It’s part of a campaign promoting the understanding of socialism and President Xi Jinping.
The red hot app is called Xuexi Qianngguo. The word Xi means studying in Chinese but of course that’s also the family name of the country’s most powerful leader in decades, President Xi Jingping. With a name that can be translated as “study Xi strengthen the nation,” the app is the latest high tech tool for political indoctrination launched by the authorities early this year.
When you open the app you are bombarded with slickly produced multimedia content about Xi, his political philosophy, daily activities and personal quotes. Critics say it’s another step in building a personality cult around Xi, something not seen since the days of the late supreme leader Mao Zedong.
For the nearly 90 million members of China’s ruling Communist Party, the app is increasingly a must-have in their smartphones and a must-use in their daily lives.
Users can text, call or video chat from inside the app prompting worries that authorities could use it for even more digital surveillance in the tightly controlled Chinese cyberspace.
The app encourages users to take interactive tests to earn points that can be redeemed for gifts. But many users are said to be under pressure from their party bosses to score dozens of points every day. The app is not the propaganda authorities only modern day tool but it seems to be their most blatant brainwashing effort so far in the age of smartphones.
Analysts say that support is increasingly important for President Xi as he demands political loyalty and social stability amid a slowing economy at home and rising tensions with Western governments abroad. But the app’s effectiveness remains an open question. Already savvy users are able to find ways to cheat the system. One popular tip found online play a half hour video of a state TV newscast while taking a shower. Credits earned 13 points.
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