China’s mandatory apps

Researcher discovers servers in China collecting data on 364 million social media profiles daily.

While China’s growth as a surveillance state has been well-documented, the degree to which the Chinese leadership uses digital tools to shape the national political landscape and to control Chinese citizens has grown even further recently. That’s because authorities have been tapping directly into Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members’ and other Chinese citizens’ online activities and social media profiles.

The China Media Project reports that the CPP has mandated party members download a new smartphone application called “Xi Study (Xue Xi) Strong Nation” (学习强国)—an application that provides a library of articles and videos carrying the teachings of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Party and government groups were to institute mandatory group training periods using Xi Study—similar to the periods of study of Mao’s “Little Red Book” once required by the party.

The application also tracks how much time each party member spends on each Xi-related activity. Points are awarded every time they complete an activity, with bonus points awarded for completing “Xi Jinping Thought” articles or videos watched during “lively intervals,” or huoyue shiduan (活跃时段)—Monday through Friday from 8:30pm to 10pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30am to 10:30am and 3:30pm to 4:30pm.”

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