International

‘Study Xi’ app is an instant hit

The app is being promoted by dozens of provincial governments.

The app is being promoted by dozens of provincial governments.   | Photo Credit: AFP

It has been downloaded 44 million times since January

A propaganda app that puts China’s President Xi Jinping in anyone’s pockets has become a hit in the country — with a helpful nudge from Communist Party officials.

Millions have downloaded the app, which tracks the amount of time users spend browsing inspirational quotes from the Chinese leader and watching short videos of his speeches and travels.

Pressure to install

Some people say they felt pressured to download it, others hope it can help their careers, and local government officials have been heavily promoting it.

The app’s name — ‘Xuexi Qiangguo’ or ‘study to make China strong’ — is a pun as the Chinese word for studying, Xuexi, can also be read as “study Xi”.

It has been downloaded nearly 44 million times on Apple and Android devices since its launch in January, according to Beijing-based statistics provider Qimai Technology.

“It’s a perfect example of propaganda in the Xi era... that appeals to China’s large online population,” said Manya Koetse, who tracks social trends in China as editor of ‘What’s on Weibo’. Users must register with their mobile phone number and name their employer. An employee at a state media company said she posts her scores on her WeChat social media account because she is in line for a promotion and hopes her bosses will see she has “the right mindset”. One state worker said she felt under pressure to use the app, although it was not officially mandatory for civil servants.

‘Xi cult’

Li Xin, who works for a state-run oil company, said it promotes a “Xi cult”.

Dozens of provincial and county governments across the country have held workshops to promote the app in recent weeks, local media reports showed.

Even China‘s e-commerce giant Alibaba, whose founder Jack Ma is a Communist Party member, is making a contribution: job ads on the company’s website shows it has been hiring software developers to work on the app.

While “Study Xi” became the top app in Apple’s China app store last month, it only managed to get an average rating of 2.4 stars out of five. Ratings and reviews for the app were disabled last week.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 12:36:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/study-xi-app-is-an-instant-hit/article26332767.ece

Next Story