China's propaganda app is going viral

Mobile App Fest for the people of China this Lunar New Year

There is a digital feast for the mobile app users and the mobile app development sector in China this Lunar New Year.
Xuexi Qiangguo, China’s propaganda news app goes viral. Also, the usage of smartphones has surged during this period.

Entertainment apps take off

Besides, binge-watching Tik Tok’sChina version Douyin has taken off noticeably and has acquired 42 million new users over the first week of the last year’s holiday as per QuestMobile firm’s report. The mobile game blockbuster Honor of Kings by Tencent has similarly gained 76 percent DAU’s during the same time.

China government makes pre-emptive move

With spoilt choices of entertainment app, China government has developed News apps to give a competitive edge. The news app is designed for propaganda purposes in the forthcoming weeks meant for vacation.

“The time of publishing this app might be linked to the upcoming Chinese Communist Party sees as an opportunity and a necessity to spread their ideology,” Kristin Shi-Kupfer, director German think tank MERICS told the reporters.

The Xuexi Qiangguo

Country’s top ideology officials has developed the news and chat app Xuexi Qiangguo. The app managed to top the Chinese App Store between January 22 and 25 before two ByteDance apps pushed it down to the third place this week. At a glance, the news section is almost exclusively about the Communist Party and president Xi Jinping.

With the development support provided by Alibaba’s Dingtalk enterprise communication tool, the app doubles as an instant messenger. This means over the Xuexi Qiangguo app the people can log in using their Dingtalk account and chat with the Dingtalk contacts.

Xuexi Qiangguo,directly translated as “studying strengthens the nation,” the app is a product of a research department under China’s Publicity Department. It is an important part in charge of how information disseminates in the country. Though the app seems to have peaked, it underscores the Communist Party’s growing efforts in recent years to appeal to phone-savvy generations.  

iOS version of Xuexi Qiangguo

As of February 1, from 6,810 reviews, the iOS version of Xuexi Qiangguo is rated 2.4 out of 5. The remarkable download results are in part of top-down order. The fact is that many of its early users are Party members or those who work in China’s top state apparatus, who were informed to install the app. The government officials were asked to mandatorily install the app and the users may get interrogated on the relevant content received every now and then.

Xuexi Qiangguo-China's propaganda news app goes viral
Xuexi Qiangguo-China’s propaganda news app goes viral

Mandatory download

Newspapers and social media posts also suggest local governments have already made the download of the news app among the Party members as mandatory and also encouraged the public to give a try. On context, nearly 90 million Communist Party members were there by 2017 end. Some even take the step to organize the app further for offline study mode.

From MERICS’ Director’s desk

“I believe most of the downloads were incentivized, probably only a very small portion was initiated by a real interest. This app will probably drop out of the rankings of any app store soon,” says Kristin Shi-Kupfer, director at MERICS, a German think tank which specializes in China.

Efforts to make the app more appealing

To encourage the younger crowd, the app takes cues from new media forms that are flourishing in China’s online world. For instance, the news section appears to be modeled on ByteDance’s news app Jinri Toutiao. While Toutiao uses various algorithms to cognize user preferences and deliver content from an array of third-party publications, Xuexi Qiangguo curates from an army of 18 state-controlled outlets.

The app development team has included a gamified loyalty program, which rewards the user’s virtual points once they complete the given task, such as daily sign-in. Because the registrations are on a real-time basis, supervisors can check who in their organizations haven’t installed the app. This usher in a new kind of digital monitoring or in another way digital micro-management.