China
Peking, China - November 13: A Chinese flag, captured on November 13, 2018 in Peking, China. (Photo by Inga Kjer/Photothek via Getty Images)
By Evan Bleier / February 1, 2019 1:30 pm

A news and chat app developed by China’s top ideology officials that almost exclusively offers stories about the Communist Party and President Xi Jinping has been going viral.

One of the top downloads at the Chinese App Store, Xuexi Qiangguo – which translates to “studying strengthens the nation” – is an attempt by the Communist Party to appeal to a generation that turns to their phones for information.

Downloads of the app, which doubles as an instant messenger, have been mandated by local governments among Party members and many government workers have been asked to download the app and been told they may get quizzed on it.

Users must use their real names to register on the app, which means supervisors can check on if employees in their organizations have or haven’t installed the app.

Kristin Shi-Kupfer, the director of a German think tank specializing in China called MERICS, told TechCrunch that very few of the downloads of the app were initiated “by a real interest.”

“The timing of the publishing of this app might be linked to the upcoming Chinese New Year Festival, which the Chinese Communist Party sees as an opportunity and a necessity to spread their ideology,” Shi-Kupfer said.” [It] may be hoping that people would use the holiday season to take a closer look, but probably also knowing that most people would rather choose other sources to relax, consume and travel.”