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Alibaba developed Chinese state propaganda app

Written by Tue 19 Feb 2019

Amid growing scrutiny over Chinese tech’s ties to Beijing, Reuters has revealed Alibaba was behind a Chinese propaganda app that went viral

Two Alibaba employees have told Reuters that the Chinese tech juggernaut was behind a Chinese Communist app that spewed out state propaganda, such as short videos, news stories and quizzes.

The app makes no effort to disguise its agenda. Its name “Xuexi Qiangguo” translates to ‘Study to make China strong’ and represents the core motif running through President Xi Jinping’s presidency, meaning that the state basically created a digital content twin of Jinping for Chinese citizens to consume on demand.

Runaway hit

Surprisingly the app was a viral hit. It overtook Douyin, the Chinese version of Tik Tok and WeChat to become the most downloaded app on Apple’s app store in China, racing up to over 43 million downloads since launch in January.

At least part of the app’s popularity can be explained by local laws mandating all members of China’s expansive party member network to download it.

Not much is known about the “Y Project Business Unit” responsible for developing the app apart from that it serves as a development house for external “special” projects.

Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma is a Communist Party Member. Neither he nor Alibaba have commented on the revelations, which surface amid growing scrutiny about Chinese tech firm’s connections to Chinese state apparatus.

The US is calling on Western countries to shelve plans to install Huawei 5G infrastructure over concerns the firm is mandated to hand over any data under its control upon China’s request. Huawei has denied all claims of state collusion.

Last month Alibaba executive VP Joe Tsai stepped into the fray, rejecting U.S accusations as”extremely unfair”.

Last April and May thousands of Google employees walked out in protest over the tech firm’s work with the Pentagon on an AI face-recognition project for drones.

Written by Tue 19 Feb 2019


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