Alibaba Behind Chinese Government Propaganda App
Alibaba developed a Chinese government propaganda app that became a huge hit recently. This has come out at a time when the country’s tech firms are under global scrutiny concerning their ties with Beijing.
“Xuexi Qiangguo,” the name of the app translates to “Study to make China strong” and is considered to be a play on the Chinese government’s propaganda theme that involves applying President Xi Jinping’s thoughts. The app overtook Douyin, the Chinese version of Tik Tok and WeChat app to become the most downloaded app in China from Apple’s China app store the previous week.
The app was developed by the special projects team known as the “Y Projects Business Unit” at Alibaba. The projects team generally takes on development projects from outside the company according to sources. New York-listed Alibaba refused to comment on whether the project team unit had developed the app.
Chairman Jack Ma of Alibaba is a member of the Communist Party. The app’s development by the company is a recent example of how Chinese tech firms are collaborating with the government. The app was released by the country’s propaganda department ahead of the National People’s Congress in Beijing next month. It is the country’s top annual parliamentary gathering.
The app created by a team at Alibaba offers users government news stories, short videos, and quizzes. Anyone using DingTal, Alibaba’s messaging service can use their login details to log into Xuexi Qiangguo. The app was built using DingTalk’s software according to sources.
The staff at Alibaba are responsible for maintaining and developing the app that offers live stream, news, community comments, and videos, according to the sources and a job advertised for the app on the Alibaba’s career website. The unit does not seem to have a website yet but has been described as a strategic level project in its creation stage on Zhipin.com, a popular Chinese job search platform.
The recent directives issued by the local universities and governments to download the app have helped boost the app’s popularity. Since its launch in January, the app has been downloaded more than 43.7 million times on Android and Apple devices according to estimates by Qimai, a Beijing based statistical consulting firm. It is not clear whether Alibaba gets any revenue from the app, or who initiated the app’s development.
Joe Tsai, Alibaba’s Executive Vice Chairman, slammed the U.S. of unfair treatment of Huawei Technologies last month. He also criticized the attempt being made by the U.S. government to curb China’s rise by starting a trade war.